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v. 13 

"'3 of the Church, 

r, 13 66-0^4-314 

e Church., 





Founded by 


The Catholic University of America 
Editorial Director 


Fordhnm University The Catholic University of America 


The Catholic University of America Villanova College 


The Catholic University of America St. Anselm's Priory 


The Catholic University of America Queens College 

Fordham University 



VOLUME I (1-185) 

Translated by 


with notes by 

Washington, D. C. 20017 



Censor Librorum 


Archbishop of New York 

November 24, 1951 

The Nihil obstat and Imprimatur are official declarations that a book or 

pamphlet is free of doctrinal or moral error. No implication is contained 

therein that those who have granted the Nihil obstat and Imprimatur 

agree with the contents, opinions or statements expressed. 

Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 65-18318 

Copyright 1951 by 


All rights reserved 

Reprinted 1965 



1 (165). To Eustathius, the Philosopher 3 

2 (I). To Gregory 5 

3 (175). To Candidianus 12 

4 (169). To Olympius 13 

5 (188). A Letter of Condolence to Nectarins .... 14 

6 (189) . A Letter of Condolence to the Wife of Nectarius 17 

7 (2). To His Companion, Gregory 20 

8 (141). An Apology to the Caesareans for His With- 

drawal, and a Defense of the Faith ... 21 

9 (41). To the Philosopher Maximus 40 

10 (775). To a Widow 44 

11 (239). Without Address, through Friendship . ... 44 

12 (171). To Olympius 45 

13 (172). To Olympius 45 

14 (19). To Gregory, His Companion 46 

15 (415). To Arcadius, Imperial Administrator ... 48 

16 (168). Against Eunomius, the Heretic 49 

17 (384). To Origen 50 

18 (211). To Macarius and John 51 

19 (3). To Gregory, a Companion 52 

* Italicized numbers indicate the older order of the Letters, as distinguished 
from the Benedictine order which has been followed. 


20 (83). To Leontms, the Sophist 52 

21 (375 J. To Leontius, the Sophist 54 

22 (411). Concerning the Perfection of the Monastic Life 55 

23 (283). Admonition to a Monk 61 

24 (54). To Athanasius, Father of Athanasius, Bishop 

of Ancyra 62 

25 (53). To Athanasius, Bishop of Ancrya 64 

26 (362). To Caesarius, Brother of Gregory 66 

27 (6). To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 68 

28 (62). A Letter of Condolence to the Church of Neo- 

Caesarea 68 

29 (67 ) . A Letter of Condolence to the Church of Ancrya 73 

30 (7). To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 74 

31 (267). To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 75 

32 (84). To the Master Sophronius 76 

33 (358). To Aburgius 79 

34 (5) . To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata ..... 79 

35 (236). Without an Address, in Behalf of Leontius . . 81 

36 (228). Without an Address, for Assistance .... 82 

37 (248) . Without an Address, for a Foster Brother . . 82 

38 (43). To His Brother Gregory, concerning the Dif- 

ference between Substance and Person ... 84 

39 (206). Julian to Basil 96 

40 (207). Julian to Basil 98 

41 (208-9) To Julian, in Answer 100 

42 (7). To Chilo, His Pupil 102 

43 (2). Admonition to the Young Ill 

44 (3). To a Fallen Monk 112 

45 (4). To a Fallen Monk 115 

46 (5). To a Fallen Virgin 118 


Letters Page 

47 (4). To Gregory, His Companion 128 

48 (254). To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 130 

49 (408). To Arcadius, the Bishop 131 

50 (409). To Bishop Innocent 132 

51 (86). To Bishop Bosporius 133 

52 (300). To the Canonesses 135 

53 (76). To the Suffragan Bishops 140 

54 (787). To the Suffragan Bishops 142 

55 (798). To Paregorius, a Presbyter 144 

56 (354). To Pergamius 145 

57 (56). To Meletius, Bishop of Antioch 147 

58 (44). To Gregory, His Brother 148 

59 (46). To Gregory, His Uncle 150 

60 (45). To Gregory, His Uncle 153 

61 (47). To Athanaslus, Bishop of Alexandria . . . 154 

62 (785). A Letter of Consolation to the Church of Par- 

nassus 155 

63 (371). To the Governor of Neo-Caesarea . * . .156 

64 (350). To Hesychius 157 

65 (363). To Atarbius 158 

66 (48). To Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria . . . 159 

67 (50). To Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria . . . 162 

68 (57). To Meletius, Bishop of Anfioch 163 

69 (52), To Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria . . .164 

70 (220). Without Address, concerning a Synod ... 168 

71 (33). To Gregory 170 

72 (357). To Hesychius 173 

73 (388). To Callisthenes 174 

74 (379). To Martinianus 176 

75 (367). To Aburgius 181 



76 (331). To the Master Sophronius 182 

77 (226). Without an Address, concerning Therasius , . 183 

78 (215). Without an Addresss, in Behalf of Elpidius . 184 

79 (308). To Eustathius, Bishop of Sebaste 184 

80 (49). To Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria ... 185 

81 (319). To Bishop Innocent 186 

82 (5/). To Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria ... 188 

83 (427). To an Assessor 189 

B4 (389). To an Official 191 

85 (305). Concerning the Fact That It Is Unnecessary 

to Take an Oath 193 

86 (179). To an Official 194 

87 (390). Without Address, concerning the Same Subject 195 

88 (243). Without Address, for a Tax-Collector . . . 196 

89 (273). To Meletius, Bishop of Antioch 197 

90 (61). To the Most Holy Brothers and Bishops of 

the West 198 

91 (324). To Valerian, Bishop of the Illyrians ... 201 

92 (59). To the Bishops of Italy and Gaul .... 202 

93 (289) . To the Patrician Caesaria, about Communion 208 

94 (372). To Elias, Governor of the Province ... 209 

95 (261). To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata . . . .212 

96 (332). To the Master Sophronius 213 

97 (68). To the Senate of Tyana 214 

98 (259). To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata . ... 216 

99 (/87). To Count Terentius 218 

100 (256). To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata .... 223 

101 (202). A Letter of Consolation 224 

102 (783). To the Citizens of Satala 226 

103 (296). To the People of Satala 227 


Letters page 

104 (275). To the Prefect Modestus 228 

105 (301). To the Deaconesses, the Daughters of Count 

Terentius 229 

106 (407). To a Soldier 231 

107 (257). To the Widow Julitta 231 

108 (288). To the Guardian of the Heirs of Julitta . . 232 

109 (422). To Count Helladius 233 

110 (277). To the Prefect Modestus 234 

111 (276). To the Perfect Modestus 235 

112 (464). To the Leader Andronicus 236 

113 (203). To the Presbyters at Tarsus 239 

114 (204). To Cyriacus and His Followers in Tarsus . . 241 

115 (87). To the Heretic Simplicia 242 

116 (174), To Firminus 244 

117 (234). Without Address, on the Practice of Asceticism 245 

118 (318). To Jovinus, Bishop of Perrha 247 

119 (307). To Eustathius, Bishop of Sebaste 247 

120 (58). To Meletius, Bishop of Antioch 249 

121 (195). To Theodotus, Bishop of Nicopolis .... 251 

122 (373). To Poemenius, Bishop of Satala 252 

123 (343). To the Monk Urbicius 253 

124 (328). To Theodorus 254 

125 (78). A Transcript of Faith Dictated by the Most 

Holy Basil, Which Eustathius, Bishop of Se- 
baste, Signed - 255 

126 (364). To Atarbius 261 

127 (253). To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 262 

128 (265). To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata .... 263 

129 (59). To Meletius, Bishop of Antioch 266 

130 (196). To Theodotus, Bishop of Nicopolis .... 269 



31 (582). To Olyrapius 271 

32 (315). To Abramfus, Bishop of Batnae 273 

33 (320). To Peter, Bishop of Alexandria 274 

34 (341). To the Presbyter Paeonius 275 

35 (767). To Diodorus, Presbyter of Antioch .... 276 

36 (257), To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata- .... 278 

37 (366). To Antipater 280 

38 (8). To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 281 

39 (71). To the Alexandrians 284 

40 (60). To the Church at Antioch 286 

41 (262). To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata .... 289 

42 (418). To the Accountant of the Prefects .... 291 

43 (419). To the Second Accountant 292 

44 (420), To the Prefects' Administrator 293 

45 (255). To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 293 

46 (265). To Antiochus 294 

47 (556). To Aburgius 295 

48 (576), To Trajan 296 

49 (577). To Trajan 297 

50 (592). To Amphilochius, in the Name of Heracleidas 298 

51 (81). To Eustathius, the Physician 302 

52 (574). To Victor, a Commander 304 

53 (428). To Victor, the Ex-Consul 304 

54 (557). To Ascholius, Bishop of Thessalonica . . . 305 

55 (241). Without Address, in the Case of a Trainer . . 307 

56 (342). To Evagrius, a Presbyter 308 

57 (270). To Antiochus 311 

58 (277). To Antiochus 311 

59 (587). To Eupaterius and His Daughter 312 

60 (797). To Diodorus 314 

Letters Page 

161 (593). To Amphilochius, on His Consecration as 

Bishop 319 

162 (258). To Eusebius, Bishop of Sanaosata 321 

163 (378). To Count Jovinus 322 

164 (338). To Ascholius, Bishop of Thessalonica ... 323 

165 (339). To Ascholius, Bishop of Thessalonica ... 326 

166 (251). To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata .... 327 

167 (252). To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 329 

168 (269). To Antiochus the Presbyter, a Nephew of 

Eusebius, Who Was Living with His Uncle 

in Exile 329 

169 (412). To Gregory 330 

170 (414). To Glycerius 332 

171 (413), To Gregory 333 

172 (335). To Bishop Sophronius 333 

173 (302). To the Canoness Theodora 335 

174 (283). To a Widow 336 

175 (410). To Count Magnenianus 337 

176 (394). To Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconmm . . . 338 

177 (334). To the Master Sophronius 339 

178 (350). To Aburgius 340 

179 (380). To Arinthaeus 341 

180 (333). To the Master Sophronius, in Behalf of 

Eumathius 342 

181 (3/6). To Otreius of Meletine 342 

182 (266). To the Presbyters of Samosata 343 

183 (294). To the Senate of Samosata 343 

184 (306). To Eustathius, Bishop of Himmeria .... 344 

185 (370). To Theodotus, Bishop of Berrhoea .... 345 



[HE LETTERS OF St. Basil, three hundred and sixty- 
eight in number, which comprise the most vivid and 
most personal portion of his works, give us, perhaps, 
the clearest insight into the wealth of his rich and varied 
genius. 1 They were written within the years from 357 5 
shortly before his retreat to the Pontus, until his death in 
378, a period of great unrest and of persecution of the 
orthodox Catholic Church in the East. Their variety is strik- 
ing, ranging from simple friendly greetings to profound ex- 
planations of doctrine, from playful reproaches to severe 
denunciations of transgressions, from kindly recommendations 
to earnest petitions for justice, from gentle messages of 
sympathy to bitter lamentations over the evils inflicted upon 
or existent in the churches. 

As may be expected, the style in these letters is as varied as 
their subject matter. Those written in his official capacity as 
pastor of the Church, as well as the letters of recommendation 
and the canonical letters, are naturally more formal in tone, 
while the friendly letters, and those of appeal, admonition, 
and encouragement, and, more especially, those of consola- 
tion, show St. Basil's sophistic training, although even in these 
he uses restraint. He had the technique of ancient rhetoric at 
his finger tips, but he also had a serious purpose and a sense 

1 Cf. Eugene Fiaion, Etude historique et litteraire sur Saint Basile 
(Paris 1869) 178. 



of fitness of things. To St. Basil's letters can be ascribed the 
qualities he attributed to the heartily approved book written 
by Diodorus, 2 which qualities may be summed up as fullness 
of thought, clearness, simplicity, and naturalness of style. He 
himself disapproved of a too ornate style and carefully avoided 
it. His early education, however, had trained him for the use 
of rich diction and varied and charming figures, and when the 
occasion warranted it he proved himself a master in their 
use. 3 

Whether we look at them from an historical, an ecclesias- 
tical, or a theological point of view, the letters are an impor- 
tant contribution. They acquaint us intimately with St. Basil 
himself, the tireless scholar following his master from country 
to country; 4 the ascetic, withdrawn from the world, with his 
mind and heart fixed firmly on God, disregarding wealth, 
pleasures, and companionship of the world; 5 the kindly ad- 
vocate and friend of all in need, always ready to plead for 
justice and mercy, or for assistance and support; 6 the stern 
spiritual father, tempering his denunciations of vice with lov- 
ing appeals for repentance; 7 and the inflexible ruler of the 
Church and champion of orthodoxy, voicing his opposition 
even to emperors in his ardent defense of true doctrine. In 
the letters, too, we come to know his nobility of character, 
enhanced by the humility and sufferings of the man, who 
attributed to his sins the afflictions he endured In body and 
soul, for he was a sickly man, 8 continually beseiged by illness- 

2 CL Letter 135. 

3 Cf. Sister Agnes Clare Way, The Language and Style of the Letters 
of St. Basil (Washington, B.C. 1927) 176-204. 

4 Cf. Letter 1. 

5 Cf. Letter 2. 

6 Cf. Letter 32, et passim. 

7 Cf. Letter 44. 

8 Cf. Letters 136 and 138. 


es which brought him to the brink of the grave. Besides, he 
was beset by suspicions of heresy roused up against him, and 
by misunderstandings and deliberate opposition to his labors 
for the Church. The Scriptural quotations throughout the 
letters testify to St. Basil's intimate knowledge of the Bible 
and the exact application of that knowledge to every situation 
in life. He depended entirely on the Holy Scriptures for the 
guidance of his conduct and that of his monks. 

He gives us a glimpse of Cappadocia and its people in 
several letters telling of the famine gripping the region and 
of the winters during which the country was buried in snow 
and people were forced to remain hidden in their houses for 
months at a time. A description of the peculiar customs of 
the Magusaeans, who had settled in Cappadocia, coming 
from Babylon years before and never intermingling with the 
people of the country, is an interesting revelation of the 
depravity in which a pagan people lived even when sur- 
rounded by Christian influence. 9 Enlightening pictures of 
social customs, such as that depicted in the story of Glycerius, 
are contained in Letters 169, 170, and 171. Ramsey 10 regards 
this episode as an example of the practice in the early Church 
of substituting a Christian festival for a pagan one, with 
Christian hymns taking the place of pagan songs, and with 
modest singing and dancing replacing the license of pagan 

St. Basil's letters are used by ecclesiastical historians such 
as Tillemont, Fleury, and de Broglie, 11 as a sure source for 
the period from about 357 to 378. In fact, Tillemont has 
devoted almost half of the ninth volume of his Ecclesiastical 

9 Cf. Letter 258 

10 W. M. Ramsey, The Church in the Roman Empire (New York 1893) 

11 Cf. Fialon, op. cit. 180. 


History to St. Basil, on almost every page of which he refers 
to the letters as his source of information. A casual reading 
of the letters will reveal the reason for this. They reflect the 
conditions existing in the whole Church of the East at the 
time: the rise and spread of heresy, the attacks of the here- 
tics, the artifices used by them, the exiling of orthodox prel- 
ates, the seizure of orthodox sees by Arian bishops, the 
suspicions and consequent accusations and abuses among 
the prelates within the fold of the Church, and the relations 
between Eastern and Western Church. 

The letters make very apparent the difference in this age 
in the conditions existent in the East and West. St. Basil 
made frequent appeals to the Western bishops for assistance 
and support in the struggles of the Eastern Church. He in- 
sisted that, because of unity of belief, they should be near to 
each other despite the long distance separating them, and 
that, moreover, as the head had need of the feet, so the 
West had need of the East. 12 His appeals must have been 
answered, for in Letter 263, to the Westerners, he thanks 
them for the happiness which the Eastern Church has received 
from their letter and from the sympathy they had extended. 

To the student of theology St. Basil's letters offer some 
interesting moments. Many of his letters are really treatises 
explaining difficult passages of Scriptures, as Letter 260, 
concerning the much debated quotation, 'Whoever shall kill 
Cain shall discharge seven times the things to be expiated/ 
St. Basil gives a briefer and then a more elaborate explana- 
tion of this passage, pointing out that the guilt of Cain's sin 
was sevenfold, and consequently that seven expiations would 
be effected by the death of Cain. In some instances he ex- 
pounds the doctrine of the Church. Letter 38, in which he 

12 C. Letter 243. 


discusses the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, and Letter 125, 
which contains a transcript of faith dictated by St. Basil 
and subscribed by Eustathius, Bishop of Sebaste, are examples 
of this type. Other letters give us the laws and regulations 
of the Church. Several of these, called Canonical Letters, 
188, 199, and 217, were placed by the Council of Chalccdon 
among the Canons of the Church. 13 

Other English translations of St. BasiPs Letters are those of 
Dr. Roy J. Deferrari in the Loeb Classical Library, and of 
B. Jackson in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. The 
present translation has been based on the Gamier and Maran 
edition and the modern critical edition by Roy J. Deferrari. 
The chronology of the letters and their order and arrange- 
ment into three classes according to the Benedictine editors 
have been retained. In the arrangement the first class includes 
all the letters adjudged by them to have been written before 
St. Basil's episcopate, in the years from 357 until 370, 
Letters numbered 1 to 46; the second, those written during 
his episcopate, from 370 until 378, Letters 47 to 291 ; and 
the third, letters of uncertain date, doubtful letters, and those 
clearly spurious, numbered Letters 292 to 365. Three more, 
Letter 366, included by Mai and also by Migne in their 
editions, and Letters 367 and 368, lately discovered by Mer- 
cati, have been added in the translation. 

13 Cf. Fialon, op. cit. 180. 


Texts and Translations 

Gamier and Maran, Basiltt Caesareae Cappadociae Aichiepiscopi 
Opera Omma (Pans 1839). 

J. P Migne, S P. N. Basilii Opera Omnia (Patwlogia Graeca 32, 
Pans 1886). 

B. Jackson, The Letters of St Basil the Great (Select Library of 
Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers 8, New York 1895) . 

R. J, Deferran, St. Basil The Letters (Loeb Classical Library, 4 vols , 
London 19264934) . 

Secondary Works: 

J. Bessieres, 'La Tradition manuscrite de la correspondance de Saint 
Basile,' Journal of Theological Studies 21 (1919) ; also separately 
published (Oxford 1923). 

E. Fialon, Etude historique et litteraire sur Saint Basile (Pans 1861) . 

F. Loofs, Eustathius von Sebaste und die Chronologic der Basitius* 

briefe (Halle 1898) . 

Pr. Maran, Vita S. Basiln At (Patrologia Graeca 29, Pans 1886) , 
W. M. Ramsey, 'Basil of Caesarca/ The Expositor 3 (1896). 

J. Schafer, Basilius de$ Grossen Beziehungen mm Abendtande 
(Munster 1909) . 

M. Tillemont, Memones pour sennr a I'lmtoire eccte'i>iasti([uc des $i\ 
premiers sitcles 9 (Paris 1693-1712) . 





Our Lady of the Lake College 

with notes by 

The Catholic University of America 

1. To Eustathius, the Philosopher 1 

HOUGH I had for some time been disheartened by 
the malice of what men call Fortune, which has 
always put some obstacle in the way of our meet- 
ing, you cheered and consoled me mightily by your letter. 
As it chanced, I was already pondering the question of 
whether or not there is any truth in the popular saying that 
a certain Necessity or Fate controls our affairs, both great 
and small; that we in ourselves are masters of nothing; or, 
at any rate, that a sort of chance directs the lives of men. 
You will readily pardon these reflections when you learn the 
causes which provoked them. 

Disdaining all things there, I left Athens, drawn by the 
renown of your philosophy. The city on the Hellespont 2 I 
passed by as no Odysseus ever avoided the songs of the Sirens. 3 
And admiring Asia, I hurried on toward the mother-city, 4 
set in the midst of her splendors. Many varied and unexpected 
obstacles beset my path from the moment I reached the 
fatherland, where I sought but did not find you, the object of 
my search. For, I seemed fated either to be ill and for this 
reason to miss you or to be prevented from setting out with 
you for the East. And when at length, after innumerable 

1 From St. Basil's own letter we may infer that this Eustathius was an 
itinerant pagan philosopher. As. St. Basil left Athens in 356, but on 
reaching Caesarea missed Eustathius, whom he was eager to hear, the 
date of this letter is evidently 557. 

2 Constantinople. 

3 Cf. Odyssey 12.158. 

4 Probably Caesarea. 



troubles, I did reach Syria, I was not able to join my phi- 
losopher because he had departed for Egypt. Therefore, I, 
in turn, had to c go to Egypt, a long and weary way,' 5 not 
even there attaining the object of my pursuit. But I was so 
drawn by love that either I had to continue my journey to- 
ward Persia and then accompany you to the uttermost limits 
of the land of the barbarians whither you steadfastly pro- 
ceeded, so persistently was chance keeping us apart or else 
I had to take up my abode at Alexandria. This latter course 
I adopted. For, if I had not grown weary of following you 
as a lamb follows the green bough held out before it, I think 
that you would have been driven on even beyond the Indian 
Nyssa, 6 or, If there is an uttermost region of our world, you 
would have wandered there. 

But, why go to such lengths? To conclude, then, though 
you are now tarrying in the fatherland, it has not been in 
my power, because of long illnesses, to meet you. And if 
these illnesses do not finally become more moderate, we shall 
not meet your Eloquence 7 this winter. Is not this the work 
of Fate, as you yourself would say? Is it not the work of 
Necessity? Have not these happenings almost surpassed even 
the poets' myths of Tantalus? But, as I said, I have been 
much encouraged by your letter and no longer entertain the 
same fanciful notions. And I now say that I ought to feel 
grateful to God for the benefits He gives, and not be dis- 
satisfied with what He bestows. If, then, He should allow us 
to join you, we shall consider it at once best and most 
pleasing; but, If He should defer the meeting, we shall en- 
dure the privation without complaint. At all events, He 
manages our affairs better than should we ourselves were 
we given the choice. 

5 Odyssey 4.483. 

6 In the Punjab. Cf. Sophocles, Ajax 700. 

7 Logioteti a Byzantine title of address used by St. Basil for laymen only. 


2. Basil to Gregory 1 

I recognized your letter just as men recognize the children 
of friends from their unmistakable resemblance to their 
parents. For, you say that the environment is not important 
in implanting in your soul a desire to live with us until you 
learn something of our customs and our manner of life. This 
disposition of mind was characteristically yours and worthy 
of your soul, which regards all things here below as nothing 
in comparison with the promised happiness reserved for us 
hereafter. But, I hestitate to write what I myself do in this 
solitude, night and day, seeing that, although I have left 
the distractions of the city, which are to me the occasion of 
innumerable evils, I have not yet succeeded in forsaking 
myself. I am like the inexperienced seafarers, distressed and 
ill because of their lack of skill in sailing. They ascribe their 
discomfort to the size of the boat and its consequent tossing 
upon the sea; even upon changing to a dinghy or a light 
boat, they still complain of their distress, not recognizing 
that they take the nausea and the bile along with them. 
Such is our situation. Since we carry around with us our 
innate passions, we are everywhere subject to the same dis- 
turbances. Therefore, we have not profited much from this 
solitude. This is what we should do and it would have en- 
abled us to follow more closely in the footsteps of Him who 
showed the way to salvation (for He says, 'If anyone wishes 
to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his 
cross, and follow me 5 ). 2 

We should try to keep the mind in tranquillity. For, as the 
eye which is continually gazing about, at one time darting to 

1 St. Basil is attempting to induce St. Gregory of Nazianzus to join him 
by explaining the practices of the monastic life The letter was writ- 
ten about 358, shortly after St. Basil's retirement to the Pontus. 

2 Matt. 16.24. 


one side and again to the other, frequently casting glances 
hither and yon, is not able to see clearly what is lying before 
it, but must fix its gaze firmly on that object, if a clear image 
of it is to be obtained so, too, the rnind of man is incapable 
of perceiving the truth clearly, if it is distracted by innu- 
merable worldly cares. Wild desires, unruly impulses, and pas- 
sionate yearnings greatly disturb him who is not yet united in 
the bonds of wedlock; and a tumultuous throng of different 
cares awaits him who already has taken a wife: the longing 
for children, if he is childless; the solicitude for their training, 
if he has children; the watchfulness over his wife, the care 
of his home, the protection of his servants, the losses on con- 
tracts, the contentions with his neighbors, the lawsuits, the 
business risks, the farm work. Each day, as it comes, brings 
its own shadow for the soul, and the nights, taking over 
the troubles of the day, beguile the mind with the same 

There is but one escape from these distractions, a complete 
separation from the world. Withdrawing from the world, 
however, does not mean mere bodily absence, but implies a 
disengagement of spirit from sympathy with the body, a 
renunciation of city, home, personal possessions, love of 
friends, property, means of livelihood, business, social rela- 
tions, and learning acquired by human teachings; also, a 
readiness to receive in one's heart the impressions produced 
there by divine instruction. And this disposition follows the 
unlearning of worldly teachings which previously held pos- 
session of the heart. Just as it is not possible to write in wax 
without first smoothing down the letters already engraved 
upon it, so it is impossible to impart the divine teachings to 
the soul without first removing from it the conceptions aris- 
ing from worldly experiences. 

Now, solitude provides us with the greatest help toward this 


achievement, quieting our passions, and giving leisure to our 
reason to uproot them completely from the soul. Just as 
animals, if they are stroked, are more easily subdued, so 
desires, wraths, fears, and griefs, the venomous evils of the 
soul, if they have been lulled to sleep by silence and have 
not been kept aflame by constant provocation, are more 
easily overcome by reason. Therefore, choose a place such 
as ours, removed from association with men, so that nothing 
from the outside will interrupt the constant practices of the 
ascetic life. 

A life of piety nourishes the soul with divine thoughts. 
What, then, is more blessed than to imitate on earth the 
choirs of angels; hastening at break of day to pray, to glorifv 
the Creator with hymns and songs, and, when the sun is 
brightly shining and we turn to our tasks, to accompany them 
everywhere with prayer, seasoning the daily work with hymns, 
as food with salt? For, the inspirations of the sacred songs 
give rise to a joyousness that is without grief. Silence, then, is 
the beginning of purification in the soul, since the tongue is 
not busied with the affairs of men, nor the eyes looking around 
at fair complexions and graceful forms, nor the ears lessening 
the harmony of the soul by listening to melodies made for 
fleeting pleasure or to the sayings of wits and jesters, a course 
of action which tends especially to weaken the spiritual timbre 
of the soul. When the mind is not engaged by external affairs, 
nor diffused through the senses over the whole world, it re- 
tires within itself. Then, it ascends spontaneously to the con- 
sideration of God. Illumined by that splendor, it becomes 
forgetful of its own nature. Since, then, it does not drag the 
soul down either to the thought of sustenance or to a solicitude 
for bodily apparel, but enjoys freedom from earthly cares, it 
turns all its zeal to the acquisition of eternal goods pondering 
how to attain temperance and fortitude, justice and prudence, 


and all other consequent virtues, all of which prompt the 
earnest man to fulfill properly each separate duty. 

Meditation on the divinely inspired Scriptures is also a 
most important means for the discovery of duty. The Scrip- 
tures not only propose to us counsels for the conduct of life, 
but also open before us the lives of the blessed handed down 
in writing as living images for our imitation of life spent 
in quest of God. 

Accordingly, by a continual practice of that virtue in 
which he perceives himself deficient, each one finds, just as 
he would in some public apothecary shop, a suitable remedy 
for his infirmity. One who aspires to a perfect chastity reads 
constantly the story of Joseph and from him learns the 
beauty of chaste habits, finding Joseph not only self-con- 
trolled in regard to ensual pleasures, but also a habitual 
lover of all virtue. Fortitude he learns from Job, who, in spite 
of having suffered great reverses in life, being changed in an 
instant from a rich man into a poor one, and from the 
father of beautiful children into a childless man, remained the 
same, always preserving untarnished his nobility of soul And 
not even when his friends, coming to console and taking 
advantage of his unfortunate condition, aggravated his suf- 
ferings was he provoked to anger. In turn, if one considers 
how he ma\ be meek and at the same time high-spirited, so as 
to use wrath against sin but gentleness toward men, he will 
find David noble in the bra\e deeds of war but gentle and 
dispassionate in the punishment of enemies. Such, also, was 
Moses, who rose up in great wrath against those offending 
God, but endured with a meek spirit the slanders against him- 
self. And in general, just as artists, when they are using 
models, strive by looking at the original to transfer its dis- 
tinctive features to their own canvas, so he who is striving 
to reach perfection in all the virtues in turn, by looking 


steadfastly at the lives of the saints, as if at living models, 
must endeavor to make their good qualities his own through 

Prayers, too, following reading, take hold upon a fresher 
and more vigorous soul already stirred to a longing for God. 
And prayer which imprints in the soul a clear conception of 
God is an excellent thing. This abiding of God in our memory 
is the indwelling of God. Thus we become in a special 
manner the temples of God when earthly thoughts cease to 
interrupt our continual remembrance of Him, and unfore- 
seen passions to agitate the mind, and when the lover of 
God, fleeing all these, withdraws with Him and, driving out 
the passions which tempt him to incontinence, spends him- 
self in the practices which lead to virtue. 

And, indeed, as a point of primary importance, one should 
be careful not to be boorish in conversation, but to question 
simply and to answer without self-display, not interrupting 
the speaker when he makes an apt statement nor wishing to 
interpose his own words ostentatiously, but speaking and 
listening moderately. One should receive instruction modestly 
and teach graciously. If he has learned anything from 
another, he should not conceal the fact after the manner 
of degraded wives who palm off as belonging to their hus- 
bands their baseborn children, but he should candidly de- 
clare the father of his idea. 

A moderate tone of voice is to be preferred, not so soft as 
not to be heard nor of such volume as to sound vulgar. One 
should speak in public only after having considered what 
one is to say. He should be courteous in his social contacts, 
refreshing in his conversations, not seeking satisfaction in a 
display of wit, but maintaining the refinement of gracious 
speech. He must at all times avoid harshness, even when there 
is need of censure For, if you yourself have evinced true 


humility, your ministrations will be pleasing to him who re- 
quires them. We frequently find useful the method of rebuke 
employed by the Prophet 3 who, when David sinned, did not 
of himself impose a definite sentence, but, setting forth the 
sin as being that of another, constituted David the judge 
of his own crime, so that, having already pronounced judg- 
ment against himself, David no longer blamed the accuser. 

The humble and abject spirit often manifests itself by a 
gloomy countenance and a downcast eye, a careless appear- 
ance, unkempt hair, and soiled clothes, 4 so that we by mere 
chance portray in ourselves these characteristics that mourn- 
ers adopt designedly. The tunic should be drawn close to the 
body by a belt which is not to be placed above the flanks 
in an effeminate manner nor left loose, so that the tunic 
slips around slovenly under it. The gait must not be over- 
leisurely, lest it indicate a laxity of the soul, nor, on the other 
hand, should it be hasty and swaggering, intimating insta- 
bility of character. Clothing should be used for one purpose 
only to cover the body fittingly for winter and summer. 
Brilliancy of color should not be sought, nor delicacy and 
softness in material. In fact, the looking to splendor of color 
in clothing for self-adornment resembles the practice com- 
mon among women who tint their cheeks and hair with dyes 
from other lands. Then, too, the tunic ought to be so thick 
that no additional garment is needed to keep the wearer 
warm. Sandals should be inexpensive but sufficiently fulfill 
their purpose. 

As, in general, one should consider utility in a garment, 

3 Cf 2 Sam 11-12 I he prophet Nathan, by piesenting for judgment a 
feigned cume of adultery and muidcr, induced Daud, \\ho had com- 
mitted adultery with Bethsabee and then had Unas, he* husband, slam, 
to pronounce sentence against himself. 

4 The mark of the old pagan philosophers. Cf. Aristophanes, Birds 1282; 

they were dirty, they were like Socrates." 


so nourishment in the matter of food. Bread will satisfy the 
actual need; water will relieve the thirst of a healthy person; 
and the products of the land can preserve the strength of 
the body for necessary duties. One should not eat with an 
exhibition of avid gluttony, but should maintain everywhere 
calmness, mildness, and restraint in satisfying the palate. 
Not even at meal time should the mind neglect the con- 
sideration of God, but should make the very nature of the 
food and the condition of the body receiving them an oc- 
casion of divine praise, marvelling how He who governs all 
things contrived the varied forms of food adapted to the 
particular need of the human body. Prayers which are due 
for the gifts of God, both those He is now giving and those 
stored up for the future, should be said before meals, as also 
after, including a thanksgiving for the gifts received and a 
petition for those promised. One regular hour is to be assigned 
for meals, so that of the twenty-four hours of the day and 
night just this one is devoted to the body, the remaining hours 
to be wholly occupied by the ascetic in the activities of the 

Sleep should be light and easily broken, a natural con* 
sequence of the meagreness of the diet, and it should be 
deliberately interrupted for meditations on lofty subjects. For, 
to be overcome by a deep torpor, with the limbs relaxed, and 
opportunity provided for absurd imaginations, places those 
who so sleep daily in danger of death. What dawn is to others, 
this, midnight, is to the men who practice piety, especially 
since the quiet at dead of night gives leisure to the soul and 
neither eyes nor ears convey hurtful sounds or sights to the 
heart, but the mind alone with itself communes with God, 
amends itself by the recollection of its sins, makes its rules 
for the avoidance of evil, and seeks the co-operation of God 
for the accomplishment of its earnest endeavors. 


3. To Candidianus 1 

When your letter came into my hands, it aroused a feeling 
worthy of your hearing. I was In awe of it, thinking it was 
bringing some official announcement; while I was breaking 
the seal, I dreaded to look at it as any Spartan prisoner ever 
dreaded to see the Laconian Dispatch.- But, upon opening 
and examining it in every detail, I was moved to laughter, 
partly indeed from the pleasure of hearing no bad news, and 
partly because of the comparison I made of your actions with 
those of Demosthenes. He, when he defrayed the cost of 
bringing out a chorus with some few dancers and flute play- 
ers, demanded that no longer should he be called Demosthe- 
nes, but chorus leader. 3 You, on the contrary, are the same 
whether acting as leader or not, though truly you are defray- 
ing the expenses of myriads more of soldiers than is the num- 
ber of individuals whose expenditures he provided. Moreover, 
you do not write to us with a show of rank, but in your usual 
style; and you give up not at all your love for eloquence. 
But, 'as Plato 4 says, 'in the storm and stress 5 of affairs you, 
'withdrawing/ as it were, 'under some strong wall,' remain 
untroubled amid the tumult; nay more, you do not, accord- 
ing to your power, even allow others to be disturbed. And 
indeed, such conduct on your part seems great and admirable 
even to casual observers, though it is not astonishing to one 
who judges it in comparison with the whole policy of your 
life. But, hear in turn our troubles, which, although they are 

1 Candidianus, governor of Cappadocia, was a close friend of St. Basil. 
This letter, a plea for protection, ma> also be dated 358. 

2 For messages of state the Spartans used a staff or baton around which 
was rolled spirally a strip of leather with a message written length- 
wise When the strip was unrolled, the message was unintelligible. The 
recipient was supposed to have a staff of similar thickness on which he 
rolled the strip so as to read the message. 


incredible, nevertheless have occurred according to our deserts. 

A certain country fellow living among us here at Annesi, 
on the death of a servant of my household, without saying 
that he had any bond against him or bringing any charge 
against him, or presenting his case to me, without asking for 
payment, though I would willingly have given it, and without 
threatening violence if I should not pay, suddenly attacked 
our house with other desperate men like himself. He beat up 
our women servants who were guarding it, broke open the 
doors, carried off everything, taking some of the things him- 
self, and setting out the rest as plunder for any who wanted 

Therefore, in order that I may not be considered an ex- 
ample of the extremity of weakness and seem to everyone a 
fit subject for attack, let me beg of you to employ now that 
Interest which you have always shown in my affairs. Only 
by placing myself under your protection could I remain free 
from public disturbances. If the culprit should be arrested 
by the magistrate of the district and shut up in prison for a 
short time, I would consider this a sufficient punishment. 
For, not only do I feel vexed because of what I have suffered, 
but I also need assurance of safety for the future. 

4. To Olympius 1 

What are you doing, O wondrous man, 2 driving my loved 
Poverty, the guardian of philosophy, out of my solitude? You 
would likely have to flee prosecution for ejecting her, if she 

3 Plutarch, Mor. 817C (Prae. Ger. Reipub.) . 

4 Rep. 6.10. 

1 Olympius was a wealthy citizen of Neo-Caesarea and a friend of St. 
Basil. This letter was written in 358. 

2 Thaumdsie a title of distinction which St. Basil used for both clergy 
and laymen. 


should perchance receive the gift of speech. She would prob- 
ably say: *I chose to dwell with this man, because now he 
praises Zeno, who, having lost everything in a shipwreck, 
uttered no complaining words, but said, "Well done, O For- 
tune, you are helping to reduce me to one threadbare cloak." ' 
Again, he praises Cleanthes, 3 who hired himself out to draw 
water from a well to earn money for his living and for his 
teachers 5 fees, And never did he cease admiring Diogenes, 
who, aspiring to be content with the gifts of nature alone, 
threw away even his drinking cup as soon as he had learned 
from a boy how to bend over and drink from his hollowed 
hands. In these and similar words would you be censured by 
my companion Poverty, driven out with your magnificent 
gifts. And she might also add some such threat as this: 'If 
I catch you here again, I will show you that your previous 
experiences were of Sicilian or Italian fastidiousness, so se- 
verely will I punish you with all the resources at my com- 

But, enough of this jesting. I am delighted to hear that 
you have already begun your course of treatment, which I 
pray may help you. Bodily activity free from pain would be 
worthy of your holy soul. 

5. A Letter of Condolence to Nectarius 1 

On the third or fourth day after I had received the dazing 
report of your crushing misfortune, while I was still be- 

3 Cleanthes was also called Phreantlus, 'one who draws from a well. 
Cf. Val. Max. III. 7: Sen., /?. 44. 

I This Nectarius, according to Tillemont, was the future bishop of 
Constantinople (381-397), the successor of St. Gregory of Nazianzus 
and predecessor of St. John ChryM>stom. He appears as St. Nectarius 
in the Orthodox Menaion for October 11. This letter was written in 
358, in the early part of St. Basil's retirement. 


wildered because of the meagerness of detail given by the mes- 
senger who brought the distressing news, and, moreover, while 
I was still skeptical of the current report because of my earnest 
wish that it might not be true, a letter came from the bishop 
giving in full the pitiable tidings. I need not say how grieved 

1 was nor how many tears I shed. For, who is so stony-hearted 
or so entirely devoid of human sympathy as to hear unfeeling- 
ly of such a sorrowful event or to give his soul to only mod- 
erate grief? 

The heir of an illustrious house, the pillar of his family, 
the hope of his father, the offspring of pious parents, reared 
in an atmosphere of prayer, in the very flower of his youth 
has been snatched from the hands of his parents and is gone 
from our midst. What human heart, even though it were 
adamant, would these sorrows not melt into deepest com- 
passion? It is not surprising, therefore, that the misfortune 
most profoundly touched us, also, since from the beginning 
we have been whole-heartedly attached to you and have made 
your joys and griefs our own. And, although it seemed, until 
the present time, that your sorrows were few and that, for 
the most part, your affairs flowed smoothly with the stream, 
yet, suddenly, by the malice of the Devil, 2 all that domestic 
felicity and spiritual joy vanished, and, in consequence, life 
has become a dreary tale. A lifetime will not suffice us fittingly 
to weep and deplore this misfortune. Although all the world 
should mourn with us, not even then can the expression of 
grief equal our suffering. Nay, more, should all the waters of 
the rivers become tears, 3 they would not suffice to fill up the 
measure of our grief over this sad occurrence. 

If, however, we are now willing to bring forward the gift 
which God has placed in our hearts I mean sound reason- 

2 Cf. Luke 13.16; 2 Cor. 12.7. 

3 Cf. Lam. 2.18. 


ing and if we permit it to repeat continually to us its advice, 
we shall quickly find some measurable relief from suffering. 
For, indeed, sound reasoning is able in prosperity to keep our 
soul within moderate bounds, and in the darker circumstances 
of life to remind us of the lot of mortal man. It suggests to 
us what we have already seen and heard, that life is full of 
such sufferings and examples of human miseries, and, besides, 
that God has commanded the followers of Christ not to 
grieve for the dead, because of the hope of resurrection and 
because the Judge has reserved great crowns of glory for 
patient endurance. Therefore, I exhort you, as a noble com- 
batant, to withstand the blow, great though it is, and not to 
fall under the weight of your grief, nor to permit your soul 
to be overwhelmed, being persuaded that, even if the rea- 
sons for God's manner of dispensing His graces elude us, 
what is dispensed to us by a wise and loving God, although 
it may be painful, nevertheless is assuredly acceptable. God 
Himself knows how He apportions advantages to each and 
why He sets unequal terms of life for all. Doubtless, there is 
some cause incomprehensible to men for which some are 
taken sooner out of this world, while others are left to endure 
for a longer time this life of suffering. 

Consequently, we ought in all things to reverence His 
loving kindness and not to be inordinately grieved, calling to 
mind that great and famous saying of Job, the mighty 
champion of God. He, when he saw his ten children crushed 
in one brief instant while they were sitting together at table, 
said: The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; as 
is hath pleased the Lord, so is it done.' 4 Let us make these 
admirable words our own. There is an equal recompense 
from the just Judge for those showing equally noble deeds. 
We have not been deprived of a child, but we have given 

4 Job 1.21 


him back to the One who lent him ; his life has not been de- 
stroyed, but has been changed for the better. The earth has 
not concealed our loved one, but heaven has received him. 
Let us wait a little and we shall be with him whose loss we 
now mourn. The time of separation is not long, since we in 
this life, as travellers on a road, are all hastening to the 
same place of rest, where one is already abiding, another 
has just arrived, and still another is hastening; yet, the one 
goal will welcome us all. 5 

Now, even if your son has finished his course more quickly, 
we still shall all go the same way. Only, may God grant 
that through virtue we become like him in purity, so that by 
guilelessness of character we may obtain the same repose as 
those who are children in Christ. 

6. A Letter of Condolence to the Wife of Nectarius 1 

I had thought to maintain silence toward your Modesty, 2 
considering that, just as the most delicate of remedies causes 
pain to an inflamed eye, so also condolence offered in a mo- 
ment of excessive pain, even though it brings much consola- 
tion, seems in some way to be distressing to a soul afflicted 
with deep anguish. But, when it occurred to me that my 
words would be addressed to a Christian who had long since 
been taught to recognize the ways of Divine Providence and 
who was prepared for the vicissitudes of life, I concluded it 
was not right for me to omit my duty. I know how deep are 

5 Cf. ps.-Plutarch, Mor 113C (Cortsol. ad A poll on ^ , where the same 
figure o life as a journey is used. 

1 Accompanies Letter 5. 

2 Ko$mi6tetaa title of addiess used frequently b> St. Basil foi both 
clergy and laymen. 


the affections of mothers, 3 and, when I ponder the kindliness 
and gentleness which you in particular show toward all, I 
realize how great must be your grief in the present circum- 
stances. You have lost a son whom, while he lived, all mothers 
blessed and prayed that their own sons might resemble, and, 
when he died, all bewailed as if each one had buried her 
own. His death was a blow to two countries, our own and 
that of the Cilicians. 4 With him a great and illustrious family 
has reached its end shattered, as it were, when its support 
was snatched away. O plague of an evil spirit, how much 
harm has he been able to inflict ! O earth, forced to endure 
such a calamity! Well might the sun, had it possessed a sense 
of feeling, have shuddered at that sad spectacle. 

However, God's providence orders all circumstances of our 
life, for we have learned from the Gospel that not even a 
sparrow falls without the will of the Father. 5 Consequently, 
whatever has come to pass has happened by the will of Him 
who created us. And who has withstood the will of God? 
Let us accept what has befallen us; for we do not improve 
our lot by bearing it unwillingly, but, rather, destroy our- 
selves. Let us not question the just decisions of God. We are 
too ignorant to examine His hidden judgments. The Lord is 
making a trial of your love for Him. Yours is the opportunity 
of receiving through patient endurance the portion allotted 
to martyrs. The mother of the Maccabees 6 beheld the death 
of seven sons, and she neither lamented nor shed an ignoble 
tear, but she thanked God that she saw them released from 

3 St. Basil's own mother Emmelia, who numbered three saints among 
her ten children, was a model of Christian womanhood. 

4 The native lands of St. Basil and Nectarius This helps to identify 
Nectanus as future bishop of Constantinople, Mnce that bishop was 
from Tarsus in Cihcia. 

5 Cf. Matt. 10.29. 

6 Cf. Mace 7. 


the bonds of the flesh, although it was by fire and sword and 
most cruel tortures. Accordingly, she was adjudged glorious 
in the sight of God and worthy of renown among men. Great 
is the suffering, I do admit, but great also are the rewards 
reserved by the Lord for those who endure. 

When you became a mother, and seeing your son gave 
thanks to God, you realized fully that you, a mortal mother, 
had given birth to a mortal child. What wonder, then, if 
this mortal son, subject to death, has died 7 But the untirne- 
liness of his death grieves us. Yet, that this is not a timely 
death is not certain, since we ourselves do not know how to 
choose most advantageously for our souls nor how to deter- 
mine the limits appointed for the life of men. Consider the 
whole universe in which you live, where all things visible are 
mortal, and all are subject to annihilation. Look up toward 
the heavens which also will some day be destroyed. At the 
sun not even it will remain. The stars, each and every one; 
living creatures on land and in the sea; the beauties of earth; 
the earth itself all are perishable, all in a short time will 
have ceased to exist. Let this thought be a consolation in 
your misfortune. Do not measure your suffering in itself alone, 
for in this way it will appear unbearable to you, but compare 
it with all human happenings, and therein you will find con- 
solation. Above all, I have this to say most forcibly: 'Have 
consideration for your husband; be a comfort one to the 
other; do not make the affliction harder for him to bear by 
wearing yourself out with grief.' On the whole, I do not think 
that words alone suffice for consolation, but I believe that 
there is need of prayer under the present circumstances. 
Therefore, I pray the Lord Himself, by touching your heart 
with His ineffable power, to enlighten your soul through the 
good use of reason, so that you may have from within your- 
self the sources of consolation. 


7. To His Companion, Gregory 1 

Even when I was writing to your Eloquence, I knew well 
that every theological expression is less than the thought in the 
mind of the speaker and less than the interpretation desired 
by him who seeks, because speech is in some way too weak 
to serve perfectly our thoughts. 12 If, therefore, our thought 
is deficient, and the tongue more so than the thought, what 
ought we to have expected in regard to our utterances except 
criticism for poverty of words? For this reason it really was 
not possible to pass over your question in silence. For, there 
is danger of disloyalty to Him in not really answering those 
who love the Lord when they ask questions concerning God. 
My former explanation, then, whether it seems to be ade- 
quate or to be in need of more accurate elaboration, requires 
an appropriate occasion for revision. 

For the present, however, we urge you, as we already have 
done, to employ yourself whole-heartedly in the support of 
truth and in the intensifying of desires engendered in your 
mind by God for the strengthening of the good, being satisfied 
with this and seeking nothing more from us. For, since we are 
much inferior to what anyone suspects, we obscure the mean- 
ing on account of our weakness rather than add any strength 
to the truth through our support. 

1 Written in 358, in the early days of St. Basil's retirement. 

2 For an elaboration of this statement, cf. the homily, On the Holy Birth 
of Christ. 


8. An Apology to the Caesareans for His Withdrawal, and 
a Defense of the Faith 1 

I have frequently wondered at your affection toward us, 
and your marks of deference to our insignificance, petty and 
weak as we are, and possessed, probably, of so few lovable 
qualities. For, \ou encourage us with your words, mention- 
ing our friendship and our fatherland as though trying, by 
an appeal to my patriotism, to induce a fugitive to return to 
you once more. I indeed admit that I have become a fugitive, 
nor would I den\ it; but now, since you desire, you may 
learn the cause. 

First of all, then, bewildered at the time by the unforeseen 
event, J as men are who are suddenly terrified by unexpected 
confusions, I could not control my reason, but I fled the 

1 The authcnticitx of this letter has been questioned at various times, 
f Schafei, Basilius des Giossen Bezukungen zum Ahendlande (Munster, 
i \V. 1909) 4, considers it unauthentic; M. Bessieres, 'La Tradition 
de la Correspondence de St. Basile,' Journal of Theological Studies 23 

(1922) 344, since he finds it among the letters in only one manuscript 
(Pansinus 1020 S) , does not consider it as belonging to the tradition 
of the letters. Moreover, Robert Melcher in an article entitled 'Der 8 
Brief des hi. Basilius, ein Werk des Evagrius Pontikus' (Munsterische 
Beitrage zur Theologie, Heft 1, 1923) shows very convincingly that 
the letter does not belong to St Basil but, most probably, to Evagrius, 
and that its date is toward the end of the fourth century. This and 
several letters of St. Basil, in great measure, determined the orthodox 
Greek terminology of the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. The most 
important terms as defined by St. Basil are: 

anomoios, dissimilis: unlike. 

ousia, substantia (although the Latin rendering is etymologically 

the same as hypdstasis) substance. 

homoousios, consubstantialts: consubstantial 

homoiousios, similis quoad substantiam: of similar substance. 

hdmois, similis: like. 

hypdstasis, persona: person. 

2 An unforeseen event which dismayed St. Basil was the action of 
Dianius of Caesarea in subscribing to the Creed of Ariminum. St. 
Basil immediately broke off all relations with him and hastened to 
St. Gregory of Nazianzus for support. 


situation afar off, and have spent a considerable time away 
from you. Moreover, a longing came upon me for the divine 
teaching and its inherent philosophy. How would I be able, 
I said, to overcome the evil dwelling within me? Who could be 
to me a Laban, freeing me from Esau and guiding me to the 
heavenly philosophy? But, since with God's grace we have 
attained our object in proportion to our power, and have 
found a chosen instrument 3 and a deep reservoir I mean, 
of course, Gregory, the mouthpiece of Christ grant us a 
little time; just a little, I entreat. We ask this, not because 
we desire a sojourn in the cities, 4 for we are aware that the 
Evil Spirit deceives men by such means, but because we 
judge that association with holy men is in the highest degree 
helpful. For, by discussing the divine teachings and by hearing 
them more frequently expounded, we form a habit of con- 
templation which is not easily lost. This is truly our present 

But you, holy and dearest of all friends to me, be on 
your guard against the shepherds of the Philistines, lest some- 
one subtly obstruct your wells and defile the clear knowledge 
of your faith. Their object is always this: not through divine 
Scriptures to instruct the more guileless souls, but through 
false wisdom to obscure the truth. For, he who is introducing 
into our faith 'unbegotten 5 and 'begotten,' and declaring that 
He who has always existed at one time did not exist, 5 and 
that He, who by nature and from all eternity was Father, 
was made a father, and that the Holy Spirit is not eternal, 
is he not clearly a Philistine? Is he not one who bewitches the 
sheep of our patriarch, that they may not drink from the 
pure water which springs up unto life everlasting, 6 but may 

3 Cf. Acts 9.15. 

4 The city in which St. Basil stayed was probably Nazianzus, the 
home of his friend Gregory, or more exactly the suburb Carbala or 
Caprales (modern Gelvere) , where Gregory's estate was situated. 

5 The Arian formula is: 'There was a time when he was not.' 

6 Cf. John 4 14. 


draw down upon themselves the saying of the Prophet: 7 
'They have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and 
have digged to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can 
hold no water'? For, they should confess that the Father is 
God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, as the divine 
Word teaches, and as they who have pondered it more deeply 
have taught. 

To those who insolently charge us with the doctrine of 
three gods, let this be said: that we confess one God, not in 
number, but in nature. Now, everything which is said to be 
one in number is not one in reality and simple in nature. 
But, God is universally confessed to be simple and uncom- 
pounded. Therefore, God is not one in number. What I mean 
is this. We say that the universe is one in number, but not 
one in nature, nor is it something simple. For we divide it 
into the elements out of which it was formed, into fire, water, 
air, and earth. 8 Again, man is called one in number. For 
we frequently say man. But he is not something simple, since 
he is formed of body and soul. We likewise say the angel is 
one in number, but not one in nature or simple, for we con- 
sider the person of the angel as composed of substance with 
sanctity. Therefore, if everything which is one in number is 
not one in nature, and what is one in nature and simple is 
not one in number, and we say that God is one in nature, 
how do they bring into our idea, number, which we banish 
entirely from that blessed and spiritual nature? For, number 
pertains to quantity, and quantity is added as an attribute 
of corporeal nature. Doubtless, then, number is an attribute 
of corporeal nature. Further, we have believed that our Lord 
is the Creator of bodies. Therefore, also, all number indicates 
those things which are assigned to have a material and cir- 

7 Jer. 213 (almost verbatim from the Septuagint) . 

8 Cf Aristotle, Met. 1.3 for the elements of the Greek philosophers. 


curnscribed nature, but 'aloneness 3 and 'oneness' are Indic- 
ative of the simple and uncircumscribed substance. Accord- 
ingly, he who confesses the Son of God or the Holy Spirit as 
number or creature unconsciously introduces a material and 
circumscribed nature. And by a circumscribed nature I mean 
one not only encompassed by space, but also included in the 
foreknowledge of Him who is to lead it from non-existence 
into existence, and consequently one capable of comprehen- 
sion by the understanding. Now, everything holy which has 
its nature circumscribed and its holiness acquired is not 
unsusceptible to evil. But the Son and the Holy Spirit are 
the fountains of holiness from which every rational creature 
in proportion to its virtue is made holy. 

Yet we, according to the true doctrine, do not say that 
the Son is either like 9 or unlike 10 the Father. Each of these 
expressions is equally impossible, since likeness* and 'unlike- 
ness 5 are used in speaking of qualities, and the Divinity is 
not restricted by quality. 11 However, admitting the identity of 
nature, we also accept the identity of substance, and we 
reject compositeness, since He who in substance is God and 
Father has begotten Him who in substance is God and Son. 
From this fact identity in substance is proved. For, He who 
in substance is God is consubstantial with Him who is God 
in substance. 

But, when man also is called god, as in the words: *I 
have said, you are gods/ 12 and when the Evil Spirit is called 

9 So declared at Seleucia and Ariminum. 

10 Cf. St. Basil, On the Holy Spirit, where he deals at length with the 
heretic Aetius' sophism that things naturally unlike are expressed in 
unlike terms, and, conversely, that things expressed in unlike terms 
are naturally unlike. 

11 By reason of the simplicity of His nature, God's attributes and His 
nature are one and the same. The attributes of God are not really, 
but only virtually, distinct from one another and from His nature. 

12 Ps. 81.6. 


god, as In the saying: The gods of the gentiles are devils/ 13 
well, the first are so called because of grace, but the latter 
are so called falsely. And God alone is God in substance. 
Moreover, whenever I say 'alone 3 I affirm that the sub- 
stance of God is holy and uncreated. The word 'alone 5 is 
also used in reference to a particular man as well as to hu- 
man nature in general. It is used for a particular man, as, 
let us say, for Paul, where it is written that 'he alone was 
caught up into the third heaven, and heard secret words, that 
man may not repeat 5 ; 14 and for human nature in general, 15 
as when David says: 'Man's days are as grass.' 16 For in this 
case he does not mean some particular man, but human 
nature in general. Now, every man is short-lived and mortal. 
And so we consider that the following statements were made 
concerning the divine nature: 'Who alone has immortality,' 17 
and 'To the only wise God, 518 and, 'No one is good but God 
only/ 19 for the word 'one' [heis] there signifies the same 
thing as 'only 5 [monos] and 'who alone spreadeth out the 
heavens,' 20 and again, 'Thou shalt adore the Lord thy God, 
and shalt serve him only,' 21 and 'There is no other God be- 
sides me, 522 Now, 'one' and 'alone' are used in the Scripture 
when referring to God, not in distinction from the Son or 
the Holy Spirit, but in contrast to those who, although they 

13 Ps. 95.5. 

14 Cf. 2 Cor. 12.4: 'That he was caught up into paradise and heard secret 
words that man may not repeat.' The first part of St. Basil's quota- 
tion differs markedly from our version of the New Testament. He 
adds 'alone* and substitutes 'into the third heaven' for 'into paradise.' 

15 Ie., by metonymy. 

16 Ps. 102.15. 

17 Tim. 6.16. 

18 Rom. 16.27. 

19 Luke 18.19. 

20 Job 9.8. 

21 Cf. Deut. 6.13. St Basil has substituted proskun&eis (adore) for 
phobethesei (fear) , as found in the Septuagint version. 

22 Deut. 32.39. 


are not gods, are falsely so called. The following are examples : 
The Lord alone was their leader, and there was no strange 
god with them/ 23 and 'The children of Israel put away 
Baalim and Astaroth, and served the Lord only/ 24 and again, 
the words of Paul: 25 'For indeed there are many gods, and 
many lords, yet for us there is only one God, the Father 
from whom are all things, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through 
whom are all things. 526 

But, we ask here how it was that, when he had said, 'one 
God/ he was not satisfied with the words for we have said 
that 'alone 5 and 'one' used in regard to God refer to the 
nature but that he added also 'Father' and made mention 
of Christ. Well, I suspect that Paul, the chosen instrument, 
did not think that it was sufficiently explicit in this place to 
proclaim only the Son God and the Holy Spirit God, which 
indeed was made clear by the expression c one God/ unless 
he should also, by adding 'the Father/ signify Him from 
whom are all things; and by mentioning 'the Lord/ indicate 
the 'Word' through whom are all things; and again, by bring- 
ing in 'Jesus Christ/ recall the Incarnation, renew in thought 
the Passion, and present anew the Resurrection. For, the 
words 'Jesus Christ 5 place such thoughts as these before our 
minds. Therefore, before His Passion, the Lord sought not 
to be made known as. Jesus Christ, and 'He strictly charged 
his disciples to tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ 5 ; 27 
for it was His intention, after the fulfillment of His mis- 
sion, and after His resurrection from the dead and ascension 

23 Deut 32.12 (Septuagmt) . 

24 I Kings 7.4 (almost verbatim from the Septuagint) 

25 Cf. 1 Cor. 8.5-6. St Basil quotes accurately, with apparently pur- 
poseful omission of irrelevant material. 

26 In this passage St Basil has been defending his contention that 'one* 
cannot be predicated of God. 

27 Matt. 1620. 


Into heaven, to permit them to announce that He was Jesus 
the Christ. Similar in meaning are these passages, also: 'That 
they may know thee, the only true God, and him whom thou 
hast sent, Jesus Christ' ; 2S and 'You believe in God, believe 
also in me. 529 Consequently, the Holy Spirit is everywhere 
safeguarding our judgment, lest in attaining one truth we fall 
away from another, and being intent on theology we disre- 
gard the divine dispensation, 1 " and in thus* falling short we 
engender impiety within our souls. 

But, as our opponents seize upon the words of the Sacred 
Scripture, twist them to fit their own views, and then cite 
them for us in order to take away the glory of the Only- 
begotten, let us likewise scrutinize them and lay open their 
meaning as far as we are able. Let us first propose these 
words: 'I live because of the Father, 531 since this is one of 
the darts launched against heaven by those using it sacri- 
legiously. In this place the expression, as I believe, does not 
refer to His life before time 32 for nothing which has life 
because of something else can be self -existent; just as nothing 
that is heated by something else can be heat itself; and our 
Christ and God has said: 'I am the life.' 3 * But the life which 
He lived because of the Father is this life which He has had 
in the flesh and here in time. Now, of His own will He began 
to live the life of man; and He did not say: 'I lived because 
of the Father, 5 but: 'I live because of the Father,' clearly 
indicating the present time. And it is possible to say the 'life' 

28 John 17.3. 

29 John 14 1. 

30 The distinction here made is between theologid, (theology) or what 
pertains to the divinity and eternity of Christ, and oikonomia (divine 
dispensation) or whatever belongs to the Incarnation and all that 
resulted therefrom. 

31 John 6.58. 

32 I.e., before the creation of the world. 

33 Cf. John 11.25. 


which Christ lives, He having in Himself the Word of God. 
That this is the meaning we shall see from the following. 
'And he who eats me/ 34 He says, 'he also shall live because 
of me. 3 Now, we eat His flesh and we drink His blood, being 
made sharers, through the Incarnation and through His 
corporeal life, of the Word and His wisdom. For, He spoke 
of His whole mystical sojourn as His flesh and His blood, and 
He revealed His doctrine composed of the principles relat- 
ing to the real, 35 the natural, and the theological, through 
which doctrines the soul is nourished and is, in the meantime, 
prepared for the contemplation of realities. And this is prob- 
ably the meaning of the expression. 

And again, consider the words: 'My Father is greater 
than I.' 36 Those most ungrateful creatures, the offspring of 
the Evil One, make use of this saying, also. Yet, I am con- 
vinced that by this expression the Son of God is proved to 
be consubstantial with the Father, since I know that com- 
parisons hold good only in the case of things of the same 
nature. For, we say that an angel is greater than another 
angel, and a man is more just than another man, and a 
bird is swifter than another bird. If, therefore, comparisons 
are made of objects of the same species, and the Father, by 
comparison, is said to be greater than the Son, the Son is 
consubstantial with the Father. But, there is also another 
thought contained in this saying. Nay, what wonder is it, if 
He confessed that the Father was greater than He Himself, 
since, being the Word and having been made flesh, 37 He 
seemed less than the angels in glory and less than man in 
appearance. For, 'Thou hast made him/ it is said, 'a little 

34 Cf John 6.58. 

35 Praktikos probably means 'real' as opposed to 'speculative' or 'logical/ 
St. Basil uses pragma frequently to denote 'reality/ 

36 Cf. John 14.28. 

37 Cf. John 1.14. 


less than the angels'; 38 and again, 'him who was made a little 
lower than the angels'; 39 and, 'We have seen him, and there 
was no sightliness nor beauty, but his appearance was the 
most abject of all men.' 40 And He endured all these things 
because of His great love for His creatures, that He might 
rescue the lost sheep and, having saved it, bring it back; 
that He might lead back in sound health to his own father- 
land him who had gone down from Jerusalem to Jericho 
and thus fallen among robbers. 41 

And will the heretic indeed make the manger a subject 
of reproach to Him, the manger in which, while a helpless 
infant, He was nurtured by the Word? And will he taunt 
Him for His poverty, because He, the son of a carpenter, was 
not provided with a cradle? For this further reason the Son 
is less than the Father, because for your sake He died in order 
that He might free you from death and cause you to share 
in the heavenly life. So it would be if one would censure a 
physician because, in bending over the bed of pain in order 
to treat the patient, some of the foul odor should cling to 

For your sake, also. He does not know the hour or the 
day of judgment; yet nothing is unknown to true Wisdom, 
for through It 42 are all things made. Moreover, among men 
no one is ever ignorant of what he has made. But He so 
provides because of your weakness, lest sinners, by reason of 
the brief time allotted them, fall into despair, believing that 
no time is left for repentance; and again, lest those fighting 
a long battle against the opposing force, because of its pro- 
tracted duration, should desert their posts. Therefore, He 

38 Ps. 8.6. 

39 Heb. 2.9. 

40 Cf. Isa. 53.2-3. 

41 Cf. Luke 10.30. 

42 Cf. John 1.3. 


provides for both by assuming ignorance; for the latter, in- 
deed, He cuts short the time because of the glorious contest; 
for the other, He metes times for repentance because of his 
sins. Yet, in the Gospels, He numbered himself with the igno- 
rant because, as I said, of the weakness of the many. In the 
Acts of the Apostles, as if separately addressing the perfect, 
and making an exception of Himself, He says: 4 It is not for 
you to know the times or dates, which the Father has fixed 
by his own authority. 343 Let these things in a rather rough 
way suffice for our original design. I now must scrutinize 
more deeply the meaning of the expression, and I must 
knock at the door of the understanding, to see if in some 
way I may be able to arouse the Master of the house who 
gives spiritual bread to those who ask for it, since they to 
whom we wish to give a feast are friends and brothers. 

The holy disciples of our Saviour, having reached the 
highest degree of contemplation possible for men, and having 
been purified by the Word, 44 seek the end, desiring to know 
the ultimate beatitude, and this our Lord declared neither 
His angels nor He knew. For, by 'day 5 He meant the com- 
plete and accurate perception of the designs of God, and by 
'hour' the contemplation of the 'oneness' and 'aloneness.' 
The knowledge of these He assigned to the Father alone. I 
surmise, therefore, that God is said to know concerning Him- 
self that which is, and not to know that which is not. In 
fact, God is said to know justice and wisdom, being Himself 
Justice and Wisdom; but to be ignorant of injustice and 
wickedness for the God who created us is not injustice or 
wickedness. If, therefore, God is said to know concerning 
Himself that which is, and not to know that which is not, 

43 Acts L7. 

44 Cf. John 15.3. 


and if our Lord is not, according to the purpose of the In- 
carnation and to empirical knowledge, 45 the ultimate end 
desired, then our Saviour does not know, as it seems, the 
end and final beatitude. But not even the angels know this, 
He says; 4b that is, not even the contemplation which is in 
them nor the principles of their services are the ultimate 
end desired. For, their knowledge is dim in comparison with 
that which the beatific vision gives. 47 

Only the Father, He says, knows, since He Himself is 
the end and final beatitude. For, when we learn to know 
God no longer in a mirror, nor through an alien medium, 
but we approach Him as the Only and the One, then we 
also shall know the final beatitude. For, it is said that the 
kingdom of Christ is all our material knowledge, but that of 
God the Father, the immaterial and, as one might say, the 
contemplation of the Divinity Itself. But, our Lord is also 
the end itself and final beatitude, according to the design of 
the Lord. For, what does He say in the Gospel? 48 c And I 
will raise him up on the last day'; meaning by the word 
'raising up 5 the change from material knowledge to immaterial 
contemplation, and using the last day' to signify this knowl- 
edge, beyond which there is no other. For, then our mind is 
arisen and awakened to blessed heights whenever it contem- 
plates the 'oneness' and 'aloneness' of the Word. 

But our dulled intellect is bound up with earthy material 
and mixed with clay, and so is unable to be intent on pure 
contemplation. It apprehends the activities of the Creator 

45 By pachuteran (denser) , St. Basil seems to mean acquired or empiri- 
cal knowledge; cf. beginning of second paragraph below. Cf. Isa. 6.10; 
Matt. 13.15, Acts 28.27. 

46 Cf. Mark 13.32. 

47 Cf. edition of Garnier-Maran, ad loc. 

48 John 6.40. 


only by being led through the beauties 49 akin to its own body, 
and meanwhile it learns to know these things from their 
effects, so that, strengthened little by little, it may at some 
time be able to approach the unveiled Divinity Itself. It is 
with this meaning, I think, that the following words were 
spoken: 'My Father is greater than I/ 50 and That is not 
mine to give you, but it belongs to those for whom it has 
been prepared by my Father.' 51 For, this is also the meaning 
of Christ handing over the kingdom to God and the Father, 2 
since He is the first-fruits 53 and not the end according, as 
I have said, to the empirical knowledge, which looks to us 
and not to the Son Himself. That these things are so is 
evident from His reply in the Acts of the Apostles, when 
the disciples asked a second time: 'Wilt thou at this time 
restore the kingdom to Israel? 554 and He answered: It is not 
for you to know the times and dates which the Father has fixed 
by his own authority.' 55 That is, the knowledge concerning 
such a kingdom is not for those still imprisoned in flesh and 

In fact, the Father has fixed the acquiring of this knowl- 
edge by His own authority; by 'authority* He implies those 
under His power, and by 'His own' He implies those whom 
ignorance of things below does not hold back from Him. 
But do not think, I beg you, that the times and dates are 
those of the senses; they are certain differences of knowl- 

49 St. Basil speaks in a similar way of 'the beauties of the earth" in 
Letter 6, and, in his commentary on Isaias, the Church is spoken o 
as 'adorned with ornaments which become it ' Cf., also, Gregory of 
Nazianzus, Letter 107. 

50 John 14.28. 

51 Matt. 20.23. 

52 Cf. I Cor. 15.24. 

53 Cf. I Cor. 15.20,23. 

54 Acts 1.6. 

55 Cf. Acts 1.7. 


edge due to the mental sun. 56 For, it Is needful that that 
prayer of our Master be brought to fulfillment, since Jesus 
is the One offering the prayer: 'Grant to them, that they 
may be one In us, even as thou, Father, and I are one.' 57 
Since, then, God is one, If He is in each individual, all are 
one; and number ceases to exist, because of the presence of 

And this meaning I arrived at In my second attempt. If 
anyone should interpret it better or should with reverence 
revise our efforts, let him both Interpret and revise, and the 
Lord will reward him for us. For, no envy abides in us, be- 
cause we did not undertake the examination of these words 
through rivalry or vanity, but for the benefit of our brothers, 
lest the earthen vessels 58 holding the treasure of God should 
seem to be led astray by these stony-hearted and uncircum- 
cised men who have armed themselves with a foolish wisdom. 

Again, according to the words of the wise Solomon In the 
Proverbs, 59 He was created. 'For the Lord, 3 he says, 'created 
me.' And He is called 'the beginning of the evangelical ways' 
which lead us to the kingdom of heaven, since He is not a 
creature in substance, but was made the 'way' in the divine 
dispensation. For, 'being made' and 'being created' have the 
same meaning. In fact, as He was made a way, so also was 
He made a door, a shepherd, a messenger, a sheep, and, in 
turn, a high priest and apostle, 60 different names being given 
according to the different conceptions. Again, what would 
the heretic say concerning the unsubjected God and One 
who was made sin 61 for our sakes? For, it is written: c And 

56 I.e., the days and hours of inner experience marked by a timekeeper 
within us. 

57 Cf. John 17.20-22. 

58 Cf. 2 Cor. 4.6-7. 

59 Prov. 8 22 (Septuagmt) . 

60 Cf. Heb. 31. 

61 Cf. 2 Cor. 5.21. 


when all things are made subject to him, then the Son 
himself will also be made subject to him who subjected all 
things to him. 362 Do you not fear, O man, the God who is 
called unsubjected? For He makes your subjection His own, 
and, because of your struggle against virtue, He calls Him- 
self unsubjected. Thus, He even said at one time that He 
Himself was the One persecuted; for He says: 63 'Saul, Saul, 
why dost thou persecute me? 5 when Saul was hastening to 
Damascus, desiring to put in bonds the disciples of Christ. 
Again, He calls Himself naked, if anyone of His brethren 
is naked. 'I was naked,' He says, 'and you covered^ me.' 64 
And still again, when another was in prison, He said that 
He Himself was the One imprisoned. For He Himself took up 
our infirmities and bore the burden of our ills, 65 And one of 
our infirmities is insubordination, and this He bore. There- 
fore, even the adversities which happen to us the Lord makes 
His own, taking upon Himself our sufferings because of His 
fellowship with us. 

But the enemies of God, for the undoing of those who 
listen to them, even seize upon this text: The Son can do 
nothing of himself.' 66 Yet, to me, this saying also proclaims 
emphatically that the Son is of identical nature with the 
Father. For, if it is possible for every rational creature to do 
anything of itself, having in its own power the decision for 
better or for worse, and the Son is not able to do anything 
of Himself, then the Son is not a creature. And, if He js not 
a creature, He is consubstantial with the Father. Again, no 
creature is able to do everything it wishes. But, the Son did 
all things whatsoever He wished, both in heaven and upon 

62 I Cor. 15.28. 

63 Acts 9.4. 

64 Cf. Matt. 25 36. 

65 Cf. Isa. 53.4; also, Matt. 8.17. 

66 John 5.19. 


earth. Therefore, the Son is not a creature. Again, all crea- 
tures are either made up of contrary inclinations or are capable 
of them. 67 But, the Son is Justice itself and immaterial. 
Therefore, the Son is not a creature. And if He is not a 
creature, He is consubstantial with the Father. And this ex- 
amination of the passage proposed, being made to the best 
of our ability, is sufficient for us. 

Let us now direct our words against those who are opposed 
to the Holy Spirit, and let us bring low all their haughtiness 
of spirit which 'exalts itself against the knowledge of God. 568 
You say that the Holy Spirit is a creature. But, every creature 
is subject to its creator. Tor all things/ it is said, 'serve thee.' 69 
If He is subject, He also has a holiness that is acquired. But, 
everything which has its holiness acquired is capable of evil. 
The Holy Spirit, however, being holy in substance, is called 
the 'fount of sanctification.' 70 Therefore, the Holy Spirit is 
not a creature. If He is not a creature, He is consubstantial 
with God. But, how will you call Him subject, tell me, who 
frees you through baptism from servitude? 'For the law,' St. 
Paul says, 'of the Spirit of life has delivered me from the law 
of sin. 571 Moreover, you will never dare to say that His sub- 
stance is liable to change, as compared with the nature of the 
adverse Power who, as a flash of lightning, fell from the 
heavens 72 and was banished from true life, because the holi- 
ness he had was acquired, and change followed upon his 
evil design. For that very reason, also, having fallen from 
'oneness 5 and having thrown away the angelic dignity, he 

67 St. Basil doubtless has in mind the famous passage of St. Paul, Rom 

68 2 Cor. 105. 

69 Ps. 11991. 

70 Cf. Rom. 1.4. 

71 Cf. Rom. 8.2 

72 Cf. Luke 10.18. 


was called from his character 'Devil, 373 since he had lost his 
previous state of bliss, and this adverse power had been 
fastened upon him. 

If, then, the heretic calls the Holy Spirit a creature, he 
represents His nature as limited. How, therefore, will the 
sayings stand: 'The spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole 
world/ 74 and 'Whither shall I go from thy spirit?' 75 But, 
as it seems, he does not even confess Him as simple in nature, 
for he calls Him one in number. And whatever is one in 
number, as I said, is not simple. But, if the Holy Spirit is 
not simple, He is composed of substance and sanctity, and 
as such is composite. And who is so foolish as to say that the 
Holy Spirit is composite, and not simple and according 
to the meaning of 'simplicity' consubstantial with the Father 
and the Son? 

But, if we must go on with our discussion and make a 
deeper study, let us, from this point, contemplate especially 
the divine power of the Holy Spirit. We find three creations 
mentioned in the Scripture; the first, the eduction from non- 
existence into existence; the second, the change from worse 
to better; and the third, the resurrection of the dead. In 
these you will find the Holy Spirit co-operating with the 
Father and the Son. Take, for instance, the calling into ex- 
istence of the heavens. And what does David say? 'By the 
word of the Lord the heavens were established, and all the 
power of them by the spirit of his mouth. 376 Now, man is 
created a second time through baptism, 'for if any man is 
in Christ, he is a new creature.' 77 And what does the Saviour 

73 Didbolos alone is used in the Bible several times with the meaning of 
'slanderer,' but ho didbolos is applied always to 'the Slanderer* as 
the prince of devils and the author of evil. 

74 Wisd. 1.7. 

75 Ps. 138.7. 

76 Ps. 32.6. 

77 2 Cor. 5.17. 


say to the disciples? 'Go, make disciples of all nations, baptiz- 
ing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of 
the Holy Spirit. 578 You see here, also, the Holy Spirit present 
with the Father and the Son. But, what would you say con- 
cerning the resurrection of the dead, when we shall have 
departed and returned into our dust, 'for we are dust and 
unto dust we shall return'? 79 'And He will send forth the 
Holy Spirit, and He will create us, and He shall renew the 
face of the earth. 380 For, what St. Paul spoke of as the 
resurrection David called renewal. 

Let us hear again from him who was snatched up to the 
third heaven. What does he say? That you are the temple 
of the Holy Spirit who is in you.' 81 But, every temple is a 
temple of God. If, then, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, 
the Holy Spirit is God. We also speak of the temple of Solo- 
mon, but meaning his who built it. Even if we are in this sense 
the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is God, for 'He 
who created all things is God.' 82 But, if it means the temple 
is His who is worshipped and who dwells in us, let us confess 
that He is God. 'For the Lord thy God shalt thou worship, 
and him only shalt thou serve.' 83 And if they avoid the use 
of the word 'God,' let them learn what this name signifies. 
Without doubt He is named 'God' [Theos] because of His 
having established [tetheikenai] all things, or of His seeing 
[theasthai] all things. 84 If, therefore, He is called God be- 
cause of His having established or of His seeing all things, 
and if the Holy Spirit knows all the things which are of 

78 Cf. Matt. 28.19. 

79 Cf. Gen. 3.19. 

80 Cf. Ps 103 30 

81 Cf. 1 Cor. 6.19. 

82 Heb. 3.4. 

83 Matt. 4.10. 

84 A false et>molog>, of course; theos is properly connected with thuo 
(I sacrifice) . 


God/ 5 just as the spirit in us knows the things pertaining 
to us, then the Holy Spirit is God. 

Again, if 'the sword of the spirit is the word of God,' 86 the 
Holy Spirit is God. For, the sword is His whose Word it Is 
called. And if He is also called the right hand of the Father 
(for, 'the right hand of the Lord hath wrought strength,' 87 
and Thy right hand, O Lord, hath slain the enemy' ; 88 but 
the Holy Spirit is the finger of God, according to the text: 'If 
I cast out devils by the finger of God,' 89 which in another 
Gospel is written : 'If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God' 90 ) , 
then the Holy Spirit is of the same nature as the Father and 
the Son. 

Concerning, then, the adorable and holy Trinity, let this 
much suffice for the present. In fact, it is not now possible 
to go more into detail concerning it. But you, having re- 
ceived from our Lowliness 91 the seeds, produce full ears In 
season, because, as you know, we also demand interest from 
such things. But, I trust in God that, because of the pu- 
rity of your lives, you will bear fruit thirty, sixty, and a 
hundredfold. For, 'Blessed,' He says, 'are the pure of heart, 
for they shall see God.' 92 And consider, brethren, that the 
kingdom of heaven is nothing else than the true contempla- 
tion of the realities, which the Holy Scriptures also call beati- 
tude. 'For the kingdom of heaven is within you.' 93 And as 
regards the inner man, it consists of nothing but contempla- 
tion. The kingdom of heaven, then, must be contemplation. 

85 Cf. 1 Cor 210-11. 

86 Cf. Eph 6J7. 

87 Ps. 117.16. 

88 Cf. Exod. 15 6. 

89 Luke 11 ,20. 

90 Matt. 12.28. 

91 Tapemoseos a Byzantine title used by St. Basil in speaking of himself. 

92 Matt. 5.8. 

93 Cf. Luke 1721 


For, of these things of which we now behold the shadows, 
as in a mirror, later, when we have been freed from this 
earthy body and have put on an incorruptible and immortal 
one, we shall see distinctly the archetypes. But, we shall see 
them provided we guide our lives toward that which is right 
and take thought for the right faith, for without these things 
no one will see the Lord. Tor wisdom will not enter, 5 it is 
said, 'into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to 
sins.' 94 And let no one find fault with me, saying: 'You igno- 
rant of everyday matters, philosophize to us about incor- 
poreal and entirely immaterial substance.' I think that it is 
absurd to allow the senses to be filled without hindrance with 
their own material food, and to let the mind alone be excluded 
from its proper activity. For, as the senses apply themselves 
to sensible objects, so the mind applies itself to mental per- 

And at the same time we must also say this, that God 
who created us made the natural sense faculties independent 
of instruction. For, no one teaches how to perceive the sight 
of colors or figures, nor the hearing of noises and sounds, 
nor the smell of fragrant and foul odors, nor the taste of 
flavors and savors, nor the touch of objects soft and hard, 
hot and cold. Nor would anyone teach the mind how to 
grasp mental perceptions. Just as the senses, if they should 
suffer somewhat, need only additional care to enable them 
to fulfill easily their proper function, so also the mind, be- 
ing united with the flesh and filled with the phantasies aris- 
ing therefrom, needs faith and upright conduct of life, which 
'make its feet like the feet of harts and set it upon high 
places.' 95 And this very recommendation the wise Solomon 

94 Wisd. 1.4. 

95 Cf. Ps. 17.34. 


makes. At one time, 96 indeed, he brings forward the ant as an 
example of the worker who has no reason for shame, and 
through It he suggests a practical road for us. At another 
time 97 he brings forward the wise bee's wax-moulding imple- 
ment, 98 and through it he suggests contemplation of nature, 
in which is blended also the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, If, 
indeed, the Creator is seen by analogy through the beauty 
of the things created. 

But, now, giving thanks to the Father and to the Son and 
to the Holy Spirit, let us bring our letter to an end, since, 
as the proverb says," everything is best in due measure. 

9. To the Philosopher Maximus 1 

Words are truly the pictures of the soul. Therefore, we have 
come to know you through your letter, just as, according to 
the proverb, we know the lion by his claws. 2 And we are de- 
lighted in the discovery that you are not negligent in regard 
to the principal and greatest of virtues love both for God 
and for your neighbor. We consider your kindness toward us 
a proof of the latter; your zeal for learning, of the former. 

96 Cf. Prov. 6.6. 

97 Cf Eccli. 11.3. According to Rufinus, the Latin Church ascribes this 
book to Solomon, but in the Greek Church it is known as 'the Wisdom 
of Jesus son of Strach' (translation of Origen's Homily on Numbers 17) . 

98 Cf. Sophocles, frag 366.5 (Nauck) : 'The very gaudy wax-moulding 
implement of the >ellow bee.' The actual words used by St. Basil belong 
to Sophocles and not to Ecclesiasticus. 

99 This sa>ing was attributed to Cleobulus, one of the Seven Sages, who 
lived in Lindus in Rhodes at about 580 B c.; cf. Diog. Laert. 89-93. 

1 The date of this letter Is about 361. 

2 The origin of the proverb is found in Lucian, Hermatimus 34: 'They 
say indeed that one of the sculptors, Pheidias, I believe, after looking at 
a lion's claw, calculated the size of the whole lion when fashioned in 
proportion to the claw.' 


It is well known to every disciple of Christ that all virtues are 
contained in these two. 

The writings of Dionysius 3 for which you ask we indeed re- 
ceived, and they were very numerous; but, as the books are 
not now at hand, we have not sent them. Our judgment of 
them is this. We do not admire all the opinions of the man, 
and there are some we disagree with altogether. In fact, as 
regards this present impiety which is being spread abroad, I 
mean that of the doctrine of unlikeness, 4 this man is, as far 
as we know, the one who first furnished its seeds. Still, I think 
the cause is not perversity of judgment, but the excessive de- 
sire of opposing Sabellius. 5 At all events, I like to compare 
Dionysius with a gardener, who, in endeavoring to correct 
the distortion of a bent young tree, misses the mean entirely 
by excessive counterpull, drawing the plant over to the op- 
posite extreme. We find something similar has happened in 
the case of this man. For, while vehemently opposing the im- 
piety of the Libyan, he has by his excessive love of display been 
unconsciously carried over to the opposite evil At any rate, al- 
though it was sufficient for him to show that the Father and 
the Son are not the same in substance 6 [hypokeimenoi] and to 
have the victory over the blasphemer, yet, in order that he 
might win a brilliant and overwhelming triumph, he establish- 
es not only a difference of persons [hypostdseis] but also a 
different of substance [ousia], a subordination of power, and 
a variation of glory. As a result, he has exchanged evil itself 
for evil, deviating from correctness of doctrine. Moreover, he 

3 Dion)sius of Alexandria, a most eminent bishop of the third century, a 
pupil of Origen and his second successor as head of the Alexandrian 

4 I.e., the doctrine supported by Actius and Valens and their followers, 
the Anomoeans, that there is no likeness in substance of the Father and 

5 Sabellius, second and third century. 

6 Aristotle, Met. VI.3.1, says: 'Substance seems most of all to be that which 
first exists ' He has reference here to matter in the metaphysical sense. 


is inconsistent in his writings, at one time denying the doctrine 
of identity of substance [homoousion] because his opponent 
misused it for the rejection of the three persons, and at another 
time admitting it in the defense which he sent to his name- 
sake. 7 Besides, he has also made use of utterly unbefitting 
expressions concerning the Spirit, banishing Him from the 
Divinity we worship and ranking Him lower, somewhere in 
the created and ministering order. Such, then, is the man. 

But, if I express my personal opinion, I accept the term 
like in substance' if 'invariably 5 is added to it, for then it 
conveys the same meaning as consubstantial, according, as- 
suredly, to the sound conception of the word 'consubstantial. 5 
And the Fathers in Nicea, because they also held this view, 
consistently introduced the word 'consubstantiaF when they 
addressed the Only-begotten as Light from Light and True 
God from True God, and so on. Now, it is impossible to con- 
ceive of any variation of light in relation to light, or of truth 
in relation to truth, or of the substance of the Only-begotten 
in relation to that of the Father. Therefore, if anyone accepts 
this interpretation as I have given it, I approve. But, if the 
qualification Invariably 5 is omitted, as was done by those at 
Constantinople, 8 I hold the expression in suspicion on the 
grounds that it lessens the glory of the Only-begotten. In 

7 Dionysius of Rome, a Greek by birth, consecrated July 22, A.D. 259, on 
the death of Xystus, in the persecution of Valerian. Upon the receipt 
of a satisfactory explanation, he declared Dionysius of Alexandria free 
from suspicion of holding doctrines similar to those of Sabellius. Cf. 
Athan. Ep. de Senectute Dionysii 1.252. However, Dionysius of Alex- 
andria had clearly been incorrect in thought and word, as St. Basil 

8 At the Acacian Council of Constantinople (560) , fifty bishops accepted 
the creed of Ariinmum as revised at Nica (at or near modern Hofsa^ 
just to the south of Adrianople) , proscribing 'substance' and 'person' 
and declared the Son 'like the Father, as say the Holy Scriptures/ Cf. 
Theod. 2.16 and Soc. 2-40. 


fact, we are frequently accustomed to think of likeness' mean- 
Ing resemblance as faint and for the most part inferior to 
the archetype. Therefore, because I believe the word 'con- 
substantial' is less liable to misinterpretation, I myself adopt 

But, why do you not visit us, my noble Friend, 9 so that 
we may speak with each other personally and not entrust 
subjects of so much importance to lifeless letters, especially 
since we have quite determined not to make our own opinion 
public? Now, see that you do not give us the answer that 
Diogenes gave to Alexander: 'It is as near from you to this 
place as from here to you.' For, because of ill health, we are 
held fast almost like the plants, always in the same place. At 
the same time we consider it among the greatest of blessings 
to live a life of retirement. But you, so the report is, are in 
good health, and, since you have also made yourself a citizen 
of the world, it would be right for you to come even here, 
to a part of your own country, as it were, to visit us. For, 
although the districts and the cities in which you display your 
excellent achievements are suited to your active personality, 
yet, for contemplation and for the activity of the mind 
through which we are linked to God, the best helpmate is 
solitude. And this quietude, profound and abundant, we 
cultivate here on the outskirts of the world, so that we may 
speak with God Himself, who provided it for us. But, if you 
must by all means honor the powerful and despise us, the 
lowly, at all events write on other matters to us, and thereby 
make us happier. 

9 Anste A title of distinction used b\ St. Basil for lavmen. 


10. To a Widow 1 

There is a certain method used for hunting doves, such 

as this. When the fowlers have caught a bird, they tame it 
so that it will eat in their presence. Then, rubbing its wings 
with perfume, they allow it to join the flock outside. The 
sweet odor of that perfume wins for the owner the rest of the 
wild birds, which follow the fragrance and the tame dove 
into the cote. But why am I beginning my letter thus? Be- 
cause after taking your son Dionysius, formerly called Dio- 
medes 2 and anointing the wings of his soul with the divine 
perfume, I have sent him out to your gracious Ladyship, 3 so 
that you yourself may fly up with him and reach the nest 
which he has made at our side. If, then, I should in my life- 
time see this and behold your gracious Ladyship brought over 
to our lofty way of life, I shall need to fill many roles worthy 
in God's sight in order to pay in full the honor due to Him. 

1L Without Address, through Friendship 1 

We spent the holy day, by the grace of God, with our 
children, 2 who, because of their extraordinary love of God, 
really made it a perfect feast day with the Lord. Now we 

1 St. Basil writes during his retreat to an unknown widow. 

2 A second name given at baptism. For the sake of personal safety, names 
not Christian were frequently given at baptism during the first three 
centuries. This practice was later discarded. 

3 Semnoprepeian a title of address applied to both clergy and laity, St. 
Basil alone is cited as using it. 

1 A greeting sent to a friend, probably Olympius, to whom St. Basil 
frequently writes. Cf. Letters 4,12,13,211. Letters 10-13 are all of the 
same date. 

2 I e., his friend's children. 


have sent them on in good health to your Nobility 3 with a 
prayer to the loving God that they may be given an angel 
of peace as a support and companion on the way, and that 
they may find you in good health and in perfect tranquillity, 
that, wherever you may be, serving the Lord and giving 
thanks to Him, you may continue, as long as we are in this 
life, to gladden us with good news of yourself. But, if the 
holy God grants you the grace to be more quickly freed 
from your present cares, we urge you to choose life with us 
in preference to anything else. For, I think that you have 
not found any others who love you so much and esteem your 
friendship so highly as we. As long, therefore, as the Holy 
One imposes this separation, deign, on every possible pre- 
text, to console us with a letter. 

12. To Olympius 

Formerly you wrote us, but briefly; now, not even a few 
words. Since your brevity keeps increasing with time, it is 
likely to become complete silence. Return, therefore, to your 
first practice; we shall no longer find fault with you for the 
laconic terseness of your letters. On the contrary, we shall 
highly esteem even your brief messages as tokens of your 
great love. Only, write us. 

13. To Olympius 

Just as everything else which is seasonal appears in its own 
proper time flowers in spring, ears of corn in summer, and 
apples in autumn so intellectual discussions are the fruit 
of winter. 

Eugeneian a title of address used by St. Basil for laymen only. 


14. To Gregory, His Companion 1 

Although my brother Gregory wrote that for a long time 
he had been wanting to visit with us, and added that you 
also had the same desire, I am unable to remain here be- 
cause, having been frequently deceived, I am reluctant to 
rely upon your coming, and also because I am drawn away 
by business. I must immediately depart for the Pontus, where 
perhaps some day, if God wills, we shall cease from our 
wandering. For, after giving up with difficulty the vain hopes 
which I once entertained regarding you, or rather, to speak 
more truly, the dreams (for I agree with the man who said 
that hopes are the dreams we have when fully awake ) , I went 
to the Pontus in search of a place of habitation. There, at 
length, God showed me a spot exactly according with my 
frame of mind, so that I beheld in truth a place such as I 
have been accustomed frequently to fashion in my imagina- 
tion when idly amusing myself. 

There is a lofty, densely wooded mountain, watered on 
the north by cold, transparent streams. At its foot is spread 
out a flat plain, constantly enriched by the moisture from 
the mountain. A forest of trees of every color and variety, 
a spontaneous growth around this plain, has become almost 
an enclosing wall, so that even Calypso's isle which Homer 
seems to have admired more than all others for its beauty is 
insignificant in comparison. In fact, it falls little short of 
being an island, since it is encompassed on all sides by de- 
fenses. Deep ravines have broken it off on two sides, and along 
the third side the river, descending from the overhanging 
cliff, forms an unbroken and inaccessible barrier. Because 
the mountain extends along the other side and is joined to 
the ravines by crescent-shaped spurs, the approaches at its 

1 This letter was written after 360, but before St Basil became a presbyter. 


base are walled off. There is one entrance to it, of which we 
are the master. Adjacent to my dwelling is a sort of narrow 
neck of land which supports a high ridge at its extremity, 
below which the plain lies spread out beneath, our eyes, 
and from which eminence the encircling river can be seen. 
This affords me no less pleasure, I think, than the Strymon 
affords those viewing it from Amphipolis. 2 The latter, spread- 
ing out its rather leisurely stream to form a lake, almost 
ceases in its stillness to be a river; while the former, flowing 
the most swiftly of all rivers I have ever seen, is suddenly 
roughened in its course by a rocky margin, and the re- 
bounding water is whirled around in a deep eddy, providing 
a most pleasant sight for me and for everyone who sees it, 
and giving to the inhabitants of the place self-supporting 
employment, since numberless fish breed therein. 

And what need to mention the land fragrances or the 
river breezes? Someone else might admire the abundant 
flowers or the multitudinous songbirds, but to these I do not 
have leisure to turn my mind. The greatest praise we can 
give of this place is that, besides being suited, because of its 
singularly apt location, for the production of every kind of 
fruits, it nourishes the sweetest of all fruits to me solitude; 
not only because it is free from the uproar of the city, but 
also because it is removed from the encroachment of travelers, 
except for those who come to us for the purpose of hunting. 
In addition to all else, it is productive of game; not the bears 
or wolves of your country, may God forbid, but it feeds 
herds of deer and wild goats, hares, and other similar animals. 

2 The Strymon, or Struma, is a river of Macedonia which flows through 
Lake Presias, and a little below Amphipolis, which it almost encircles; 
it empties into a bay of the Aegean Sea, called Strymonicus Sinus. CL 
He*. Th. 339; Aesch. Ag. 192; Hdt. 7.75; Thuc. 296, 4.108, 5.7; and 
Strabo, p. 323. 


Do you not realize, then, how great a risk I was foolishly 
taking in my eagerness to exchange such a place for the 
Tiberina, 3 the pit of the world? You must pardon me for 
hurrying on now to such a place. For, not even Alcmaeon 
could longer endure his wandering after he had discovered 
the Echinades. 4 

15. To Arcadius, Imperial Administrator 1 

The citizens of our capital conferred a greater favor than 
they received when they provided me with an opportunity of 
writing to your Honor. 2 For truly, because of your usual 
innate gentleness toward all, the privilege they sought to 
obtain through a letter from us was theirs even before the 
letter was written. 

In fact, we regarded it an exceptional advantage to have 
the opportunity of addressing your peerless Honor, 3 and we 
prayed to the holy God that we might continue to take de- 
light in your growing favor with Him and in your increasing 
earthly renown, and also that we might rejoice with those 
favored by your patronage. We also prayed that you might 
receive and look kindly upon those presenting our letter to 

3 The Tiberina was a district near Gregory's home at Nazianzus; cf Greg 
Naz. Epp. 6 and 7. 

4 Alcmaeon, because he had slam his mother, was relentlessly pursued by 
the Ermnys, the avenger of matricide, and was allowed rest in no place 
until he reached the Echinades. These islands, formed in the mouth of 
the river Achelous by its muddy stream, had not been in existence at 
the time of the murder and so could offer him relief. 

1 The imperial administrator managed the enormous rexenues of the 
treasury and kept an account of the privileges granted by the emperor. 
This letter was written during St. Basil's retirement in the Pontus. 

2 Timidteta a title of address used by St. Basil for both clergymen and 


3 KalokagaManz title of address used by St. Basil for laymen only. 


you and send them back completely gratified, proclaiming 
your courtesy and realizing that our intercession with your 
unsurpassed Honor was not unavailing. 

76. Against Eunomius, the Heretic 1 

He who says that it is possible to attain to a knowledge 
of things really existing has, no doubt, directed his process 
of thought by some method and orderly procedure having 
its inception in his actual knowledge of existing things, and, 
after he has trained himself by the comprehension of ob- 
jects rather insignificant and easily understood, he has simply 
advanced his perceptive faculty to the apprehension of that 
which is beyond all understanding. 

Let him, therefore, who boasts that he has arrived at a 
knowledge of things actually existing explain the nature of the 
most trifling of visible objects. Let him expound the nature 
of the ant. Is its life sustained by breath and respiration? Is 
its body provided with bones? Is its framework braced with 
sinews and ligaments? Is the position of the sinews held 
secure by the covering of muscles and glands? Is the marrow 
stretched along the spinal vertebrae from the front of the 
head to the tail? Does it give the stimulating force to the 
members which have motion by its covering of sinewy 
membrane? Does it have a liver and a gall bladder near 
the liver; also kidneys, a heart, arteries and veins, membranes 

1 Eunonuus was the bishop of C>zicus against whose Liber Apologeticus 
St. Basil wrote his Adversus Eunomium. However, this letter is similar 
almost word for word to a passage in the tenth book of St. Gregory of 
Nyssa's treatise against Eunomius written in 380 or 381. F. Diekamp, 
'Ein angebhcher Brief des hi. Basilius gegen Eunomius,' Theologische 
Quartalschrijt 77 (1895) 277-285, considers it the work of St. Gregory. 
Bessieres, op. cit. 349. also thinks that it is not by St. Basil 


and cartilage? Is it hairless or covered with hair? Has it an 
uncloven hoof, or feet divided into toes? How long does it 
live? What is its manner of reproduction? How long is the 
period of gestation? And how is it that all ants are not merely 
crawling insects, nor all winged, but some belong to those 
which travel on the ground and others fly through the air? 
To begin with, therefore, let him who boasts of the knowl- 
edge of things actually existing explain the nature of the 
ant. Then let him investigate in the same manner the nature 
of the power which surpasses every intellect. But, if you have 
not yet, by your investigation, understood the nature of the 
smallest ant, how can you boast that the incomprehensible 
power of God is clear to your mind? 

17. To Origen 1 

Listening to you delights us, but reading your exposi- 
tions gives us even more pleasure. And great is our gratitude 
to the good God, who did not permit the truth to be brought 
to naught because of its betrayal by would-be erudites, but, 
on the contrary, supplied through you a defense for the word 
of true religion. Certainly, those men, like hemlock or leop- 
ard's bane, or any other deadly herb, after flourishing for a 
short time, will quickly wither away. But on you, for your 
defense of His name, will the Lord bestow His reward fresh 
and ever new. May the Lord, therefore, grant you all pros- 
perity in your home and may He also hand on the blessing 
to your children's children. It was indeed with joy that I 

1 A Christian apologist, evidently a layman, about whom there is no 
further information than that contained in this letter, which was written 
during the reign of Julian. 


saw and embraced your most noble sons, striking images of 
your Excellency; 2 in my prayers I ask for them all that a 
father himself would ask. 

IS. To Macarius and John 1 

The work of the farm does not surprise the farmer, nor 
the storm at sea astonish the sailor, nor the sweat of sum- 
mer dismay the hireling; so, in truth, afflictions of the present 
life do not find unprepared those who choose to live holily. 
Each of these occupations is accompanied by its proper labor, 
well known to those pursuing it a labor not chosen for its 
own sake but for the enjoyment of the anticipated good. 
Hopes, encompassing and welding together the whole life 
of man, mitigate these hardships. 

Now, some who toil for the fruits of the earth or for 
mundane gains have been altogether disappointed in their 
hopes and have enjoyed their expectations only in imagina- 
tion. Others, for whom the result has by chance accorded 
with their wish, soon have need of a second hope, the first, 
realized, having quickly spent itself and wasted away. Those 
alone who labor for holiness are not deceived in their hopes; 
the end has justified the struggle which gives them the firm 
and enduring kingdom of heaven. 

As long, therefore, as truth is on our side, let no deceitful 
slander trouble you, no threat of the powerful frighten you, 
nor the laughter and the insult of your acquaintances grieve 
you, nor even the condemnation of those pretending con- 

2 Chrestdtetaz. title of address used by St. Basil for laymen. 

1 This letter was probably written during the reign of Julian. 


cern for you, holding out the powerful enticement of delusive 
advice. Oppose all of these with right reason, invoking as 
its ally and guide our Lord Jesus Christ, the teacher of 
true religion, for whom to suffer evil is sweet, 'to die is gain.' 2 

19. To Gregory, a Companion 1 

We have just received your letter; yours in the strict 
sense of the word, not so much in the distinctiveness of the 
handwriting as in the characteristic style of the letter itself. 
The words were few but thought-filled. We did not answer 
immediately, since we ourselves were away from home when 
the carrier delivered the letter to one of our friends and 
immediately departed. But now we salute you through Peter, 
paying a debt of friendly greeting and at the same time fur- 
nishing you an opportunity for a second letter. Assuredly, 
there is no labor involved in writing a laconic letter such 
as are all those which we receive from you. 

20. To Leontius, the Sophist 1 

Our letters to you are, it is true, infrequent, but not more 
so than yours to us, although people have been continually 
coming from your country to visit us. Now, if you were dis- 
patching letters by all of these, one after another, we could 
easily imagine ourselves with you and enjoy you just as if 

2 Phil. 121. 

1 This brief answer to a letter of St. Gregorv of Nazianzus was probably 
written from Caesarea shortly after St. Basil became a presbyter. 

1 A Leontius is referred to in Letter 35. This letter was written in 364. 


we were actually in your company, so continuous has been the 
stream of arrivals here. 

But, why do you not write? Certainly, a sophist has no 
other work except to write. And if you are lazy of hand, 
you have no need to write, for another will perform that 
service for you. Only a tongue is necessary. Although it may 
not converse with us, it assuredly will talk to one of your 
companions; even if no one is present, it will still talk. Since 
it is both sophistic and Attic, it will certainly not keep silent 
any more than the nightingales when stirred to song by 
spring. Now, in our case, the many duties presently en- 
gaging us should, perchance, justify the scarcity of our letters. 
Furthermore, the fact that we are slovenly in expression, as 
it were, because of a deep-rooted habit of colloquial speech, 
reasonably causes us to hesitate in addressing you sophists, 
who will be displeased and impatient with anything not 
consonant with your own wisdom. But for you, surely it is 
reasonable for you to make public all your utterances on 
every occasion, since of all the Greeks that I myself know 
you are the most fit to speak. And I think I know the most 
famous among you. Therefore, there is no excuse for your 
being silent. So much, then, for these matters. 

I have also sent you my work against Eunomius, 2 and 
whether it should be called child's play or something a little 
more serious than child's play 1 leave you to decide. You are 
no longer, I think, in need of it for your own self, but I 
hope it will be no mean weapon for you against chance per- 
verse acquaintances. We do not rely so much on the force of 
the treatise, but we know definitely that you are exceedingly 

2 A dogmatic work in three books, 'Refutation of the Apologetic of the 
Impious Eunomius/ composed in 363 or 364. In the year 360, Eunomius 
had been deprived of his episcopate in Cyzicus because of his Arian 


ingenious even with slight resources. And if any statement 
appears to you to be insufficiently strong, do not hesitate to 
criticize. For, in this point especially the friend differs from 
the flatterer, in that the latter talks to please, but the former 
does not refrain even from words that pain. 3 

2L To Leontius, the Sophist 1 

The good Julian seems to be deriving some personal ad- 
vantage from the general state of affairs. For, at present, when 
all the world is full of men demanding payment and bringing 
charges, he also is clamoring for payment and vehemently 
making accusations. Only, in his case, it is not arrears in 
taxes but in letters. Yet, I fail to understand how it is possible 
that anything has been left unpaid to him. For whenever 
he gave a letter he received one in return. Unless you have 
a preference, too, for that well-known 'fourfold'; 2 for even 
the Pythagoreans esteemed the 'teiractys 3 * less than the present 
tax collectors do the 'fourfold. 5 Yet, the reasonable view 
would rather be that, since you are a sophist and so abound 
in words, you should yourself be liable to us for the payment 

3 For the maxim, see Plutarch. 'How one should distinguish a flatterer 
from a friend/ 

1 Leontms himself must be the 'good Julian 1 whom St. Basil playfully 
chides for claiming that answers to his letters are due to him. Other- 
wise, this letter is unintelligible. It was written in 364. 

2 The Benedictine editors explain this 'fourfold' as a penalty of four 
times the regular amount, which was demanded for unpaid taxes. Cf. 
Ammianus Marcellinus, 26.6. 

3 The term applied by the Pythagoreans to the sum of the first four 
numbers, one, two, three, and four the numbers applied respectively 
to the point, the line, the surface, and the solid, and considered by them 
to be the root of all creation. 


of the 'fourfold. 5 Pray do not think that we are writing this 
because we are annoyed. I take pleasure even in your cen- 
sures, since it is said that all things done by the beautiful 
take on an increase of beauty. Therefore, even grief and 
anger are becoming to them. At all events, one would more 
gladly see his beloved friend angry than another flattering. 
So, never cease to bring such accusations. Without doubt, 
the charges themselves will be letters, than which nothing is 
dearer to me or gives me more pleasure. 

22. Concerning the Perfection of the Monastic Life 1 

There are many things set forth in the divinely inspired 
Scriptures which must be observed by those who are earnestly 
endeavoring to please God. But at this time I wish to explain, 
necessarily briefly, as I understand them from the divinely 
inspired Scripture itself, only those points which have been 
questioned among you at present. I am therefore leaving be- 
hind me the easily comprehended evidence on each such 
point, so that those may take note who are engaged in read- 
ing and who also will be capable of informing others. 

The Christian Ought to think thoughts befitting his heavenly 
calling 2 and to live a life worthy of the Gospel of Christ. 3 
The Christian should not exalt himself, 4 nor be drawn away 
by anything from the remembrance of God and His will 
and judgments. The Christian, transcending in all things 

1 This letter shows how completely St. Basil follows the Holy Scriptures 
in. his ideal of the religious life. He identified the monastic with 
the ideal Christian life. The date of the letter is probably 364. 

2 Cf. Heb. 3.1. 

3 Cf. Phil. 1.27. 

4 Cf. Luke 12.29, 


righteousness merely according to law, 5 ought neither to 
swear nor to lie. He must not speak evil, 6 act despitefully, 
nor quarrel, 7 nor avenge himself, 8 nor render evil for evil, 9 
nor give way to anger. 10 He should be patient, 11 enduring any- 
thing whatsoever, and should rebuke 12 the evil-doer at an 
opportune moment, not indeed in a passion of personal venge- 
ance, but with a desire of a brother's correction, 13 according 
to the command of the Lord. He should say nothing against 
an absent brother with the intention of slandering him, 14 
since, indeed, it is slander even if the remarks are true. He 
must turn away from the slanderer of his brother. 15 

The Christian should not engage in repartee, 16 nor laugh, 
nor tolerate jesters. 17 He must not indulge in idle conversa- 
tions, talking of things which are neither for the benefit of 
those listening nor for any purpose that is necessary and 
permitted to us by God. 18 Consequently, the laborers will 
strive to work as much as possible in $ilence, and they who 
have been entrusted, after due trial, with directing others for 
the upbuilding of their faith will stimulate the workers with 
good discourses in order that the Holy Spirit of God may 

5 Cf. Matt. 5.20. 

6 Cf. Titus 3.2 

7 Cf. 2 Tim. 2.24. 

8 Cf. Rom. 12.19. 

9 Cf. Rom. 12.17. 

10 Cf. Matt. 5.22. 

11 Cf. James 5.8. 

12 Cf. Titus 2.15. 

13 Cf. Matt. 18.15. 

14 Cf. 1 Peter 2.1. 

15 Cf. James 4.11. 

16 Cf. Eph. 5.4. 

17 'This charge is probably founded on Luke 6.21 and 25, and James 4.9 
Yet our Lord's promise that they who hunger and weep "shall laugh" 
admits of fulfillment in the kingdom of God on earth. Cheerfulness 
is a note of the Church, whose members, if sorrowful, are yet always 
rejoicing. (2 Cor. 6.10) ' Jackson. 

18 Cf. Eph. 5.4. 


not be grieved. Visitors should not freely approach or talk 
with any of the brothers before those who have been en- 
trusted with the care of the general discipline have examined 
what before God is best for the common good. He ought not 
to be a slave to wine, nor passionately fond of meat, 19 nor In 
general a lover of any food or drink, for everyone in a contest 
abstains from all things. 20 

No one should keep or reserve as his own anything that 
has been given to him for his use, 21 but, devoting himself to 
the care of everything as belonging to the Lord, he should 
not neglect anything, even that which may have been cast 
aside or left uncared for. He should not be his own master, but 
should so think and act 22 in all things as one handed over 
by God into servitude to his like-minded brethren; 'but each 
in his own turn.' 23 

The Christian should not murmur 24 either because of the 
meagre care of his needs or because of fatiguing labors, since 
those entrusted with authority in these matters have the final 
decision over each. There should be no outburst, nor any 
angry demonstration or commotion, 25 nor should there be any 
distraction of mind from the realization of the presence of 
God. 26 The Christian ought to control his voice according 
to circumstances. He should neither give retort nor act boldly 
or contemptuously, 27 but in everything show moderation 28 
and respect toward all 29 He should not wink his eye slyly, 

19 Cf. Rom. 14.21. 

20 1 Cor. 925. 

21 Cf. Acts 4 32. 

22 Cf. 1 Cor. 9.19. 

23 1 Cor 1523. 

24 Cf. 1 Cor. 10 10. 

25 Cf. Eph. 4.31 

26 Cf. Heb. 4.13 

27 Cf . Titus 3 2. 

28 Cf. Phil. 4.5. 

29 Cf. Rom. 2.10; 1 Peter 2 17. 


nor use any other posture or gesture which grieves his brother 
or shows disdain. 30 

The Christian should not make a display of dress or shoes, 
as this is indeed idle ostentation. 31 He should use inexpensive 
clothing for his bodily needs. He should not spend anything 
beyond actual necessity or for mere extravagance. This is 
an abuse. He should not seek honor nor lay claim to the 
first place. 32 Each one ought to prefer all others to himself. 33 
He ought not to be disobedient. 34 He who is idle, although 
able to work, should not eat; 35 moreover, he who is occupied 
with some task which is rightly intended for the glory of 
Christ ought to hold himself to a pursuit of work within his 
ability. 36 Each one, with the approval of his superiors, should, 
with reason and certainty, so do everything, even to eating 
and drinking, as serving the glory of God. 37 He should not 
change from one work to another without the approval of 
those who have been charged with the regulation of such 
matters, unless, perhaps, an unavoidable necessity should sum- 
mon one unexpectedly to the aid of a helpless brother. Each 
one ought to remain at whatever work has been assigned 
him, without overstepping his own bounds to go on to tasks 
not prescribed, unless those entrusted with these matters judge 
that someone needs help. No one should be found going from 
one workshop to another. He should do nothing through 
rivalry or strife. 

The Christian should not envy another's good repute, nor 

30 Cf. Rom. 14.10. 

31 Cf. Matt. 6.29; Luke 1227. 

32 Cf Mark. 9.54. 

33 Cf Phil. 2.3. 

34 Cf. Titus 1.10. 

35 Cf. 2 Thess. 3.10. 

36 Cf. 1 Thess. 4.1 L 

37 Cf. 1 Cor. 10.31. 


rejoice at the faults of anyone. 38 He must, in the love of 
Christ, be grieved and afflicted at the faults of his brother 
and rejoice at his virtuous deeds. 39 He should not be indif- 
ferent toward sinners, neither should he tolerate them in 
silence. 40 He who reproves should do so with all compassion 
in fear of God and with the view of correcting the sinner. 41 
The one reproved or rebuked ought willingly to accept the 
correction, recognizing the benefit to himself. When one is 
accused, another ought not, before him or any others, to 
contradict the accuser. But, if at any time a charge should 
seem unreasonable to anyone, he ought in private to question 
the accuser and either convince him or be himself fully 

Each one should conciliate, as far as he is able, anyone at 
variance with him. He should not hold past wrongs against 
the repentant sinner, but from his heart should pardon him. 42 
He who says that he repents of his sin should not only feel 
remorse for the sin which he has committed, but should also 
bring forth fruits befitting repentance. 43 If he who has been 
corrected for his first .sins and has been deemed worthy of 
pardon again falls, he prepares for himself a more wrathful 
judgment. 44 He who after the first and second admonition 45 
remains in his fault should be reported to the superior, that 
perhaps he may be ashamed when further rebuked. But, if 
he does not even in this case correct himself, he must be cut 
off from the rest as a cause of scandal, and be looked upon 

38 Cf. 1 Cor. 13.6. 

39 Cf. 1 Cor. 1226. 

40 Cf. 1 Tim 5.20. 

41 Cf. 2 Tim. 4.2. 

42 Cf. 2 Cor. 2.7. 

43 Cf. Luke 3.8. 

44 Cf. Heb. 10.26-27. 

45 Cf. Titus 3.10. 


as a heathen and a publican, 46 this for the safety of those 
zealous for obedience, according to the saying: 'When the 
impious fall, the just become fearful 547 But, all must also 
mourn for him as if a limb had been cut off from the body. 
The sun must not go down on the wrath of a brother, 48 
lest, perchance, the night of death come between the two and 
leave an inevitable charge for the day of judgment. He must 
not put off the time for his amendment, 49 because there is 
no certainty concerning the morrow, and because many, plan- 
ning, have not reached the morrow. He must not be deluded 
by a full stomach, which often produces nightmares. He must 
not engage in excessive toil, achieving beyond sufficiency, 
according to the words of the Apostle: 'But having food 
and sufficient clothing, with these let us be content, 550 be- 
cause an abundance which exceeds the need presents an ap- 
pearance of covetousness, but covetousness has the condemna- 
tion of idolatry. 51 He must not be fond of money, 52 nor 
treasure useless things which he does not need. He who draws 
nigh to God should welcome poverty in all things and be 
penetrated with the fear of God, according to him who said : 
Tierce thou my flesh with thy fear, for I am afraid of thy 
judgments.' 53 The Lord grant that you may receive with full 
confidence what I have said, and for the glory of God show 
forth fruits worthy of the Spirit, according to the will of God 
and with the assistance of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. 

46 Cf. Matt. 18.17. 

47 Prov. 29.16. The translation from the Latin Vulgate seems to be that 
of a somewhat different wording; St. Basil followed the Greek Septua- 

48 Cf. Eph. 4.26. 

49 Cf. Luke 12.40. 

50 1 Tim. 6.8. 

51 Cf. Col. 3.5. 

52 Cf. Mark 10.23-24; Luke 18 24. 

53 Ps. 1 19.120. 


23. Admonition to a Monk 1 

There has come to me a man who says he despises the 
vanity of this life, the joys of which he has observed to be 
ephemeral, passing quickly away and merely furnishing 
material for eternal fire. He wishes 'to withdraw from a 
wretched and lamentable life, to forsake the pleasures of the 
flesh, and to travel for the future along the road that leads 
to the mansions of the Lord, Now, if he is really determined 
in his desire of a truly blessed manner of life, and has in his 
soul a noble and commendable longing- loving the Lord, our 
God, with his whole heart, with his whole strength, and with 
his whole mind your Reverence 2 should warn him of the 
difficulties and hardships of the strait and narrow path, 
and confirm him in the hope of the now unseen blessings 
which, according to the promise, are reserved for those worthy 
of the Lord. 

I therefore write to urge your incomparable 3 Perfection* 
in Christ to mold him, as far as possible, and to bring about 
without my assistance his renunciation according to God's 
pleasure, instructing him in the teachings of the holy Fathers 
as set forth by them in their writings. I urge you, then, to 
place before him all the best practices 5 of exact ascetic ob- 
servance, and so to introduce him to that life that, having 

1 This letter, written at Caesarea while St Basil was. a presb>ter, seems 
to be an exhortation to his monks to train well a new recruit whom he 
is sending to them, rather than a personal admonition to any one monk 

2 Theosebeias a title of address used by St. Basil except in this letter, 
for bishops only. 

3 AsiinkritoniL title of distinction used by St. Basil for both clergy 
and laity. 

4 Teteidteta a title of address applied by St. Basil to clergy and laity. 

5 Among the writings on the ascetic life ascribed to St. Basil is the Book 
of Ascetic Discipline, which is an exhortation to a renunciation of the 
world and contains specific directions for the monastic life. 


voluntarily undertaken the contests of piety, subjecting him- 
self to the kind yoke of the Lord, living his life in imitation 
of Him who became poor 6 and clothed Himself with flesh 
for us, and running according to his aim toward the prize 
of his heavenly calling, he may meet with approbation from 
the Lord. For, I put him off when he was eager to receive 
here the crown of the love of God, wishing to anoint him 
for such contests with the assistance of your Reverence, and 
to appoint as his trainer whomever of you he might request. 
Such a one would, through his earnest and blessed care, 
nobly train and bring to perfection an excellent wrestler, one 
wounding and overthrowing the world ruler of this darkness 
and the spiritual forces of wickedness, against whom, ac- 
cording to the blessed Apostle, is our wrestling. 7 Therefore, 
what I wished to do with your assistance, let your love in 
Christ do even without me. 

24. To Athanasius, Father of Athanasius, Bishop of Ancyra 1 

I myself am convinced, nor do I think that your Excellency 
doubts it, that it is one of the most difficult, if not impossible, 
things, for the life of a man to be above slander. But, per- 
sonally to provide no occasion to those keenly watching our 
actions or to those maliciously lying in wait for our slightest 
errors is both possible and characteristic of persons living 
wisely and according to the standards of piety. But, do 

6 Cf. 2 Cor. 8.9. 

7 Cf. Eph. 6.12. 

1 Nothing is known of the elder Athanasius except what is given in this 
letter, which is a reply to slanders that had evidently been reported to 
St. Basil concerning Athanasius' treatment of his children. The letter 
was written before St. Basil's episcopate. Cf. Letter 25 n. 1. 


not think that we are so easy-going and so credulous as to 
believe without investigation the accusations of chance per- 
sons. For, we bear in mind the spiritual maxim that we shall 
'not receive the voice of a lie.* 2 

However, since you yourself who seriously pursue litera- 
ture say that things seen are signs of things unseen, this is 
our opinion (and do not be offended if anything I say shall 
seem to be an instruction, for the weak things of the world 
and the foolish has God chosen; 3 and through these He 
frequently brings about the salvation of those who are saved). 
At all events, what I say and recommend is this: that we 
should be careful in fulfilling every word and every duty, 
and, according to the command of the Apostle, give offense 
to no one. 4 I hold that it is proper, when a man has sweated 
much in the acquiring of knowledge, and has administered 
the government of nations and cities, and has emulated the 
great virtues of his ancestors, for his life to be set before us 
as an example of virtue. 

Of course, you ought not now to show only by word your 
love for your children, as you have long been showing it, 
indeed, ever since you became a father, nor to employ natural 
affection alone, which even brute beasts exhibit for their off- 
spring, as you yourself have said and as experience proves. 
But, certainly, you should deliberately intensify your love 
in proportion to their increasing worthiness of your paternal 
prayers. It is not necessary, therefore, to persuade us of these 
things, for the testimony of actual facts is sufficient. 

It is not out of place, however, for the sake of truth, to 
add that our brother Timotheus, the suffragan bishop, is 
not the one who reported the rumors to us. For, neither in 

2 Cf. EX, 23.1. 

3 Cf. 1 Cor. 1.27-28. 

4 Cf. 1 Cor. 6.3. 


conversation nor in his letters has he been known to say 
anything slanderous, great or small, about you. Therefore, 
although we do not deny having heard reports, Timotheus 
was not the inventor of the slanders against you. But, at all 
events, when we hear anything, we shall at. least, whatever 
else we do, follow the example of Alexander keep one ear 
free for the accused. 5 

25. To Athanasius, Bishop of Ancyra 1 

Some coming to us from Ancyra so many that it is not 
easy to enumerate them, but all agreeing in their accounts 
reported to me that you, my dear Friend 2 (how can I 
speak of it without hurting you), do not mention us in a 
very pleasant manner nor in accordance with your usual char- 
acter. Yet, you may be sure, nothing human astonishes me, 
nor should any defection be a complete surprise, as I have 
learned from long observing the weakness of human nature 
and its readiness to espouse the opposite cause. I do not, there- 
fore, consider it of importance if your esteem of me has 
undergone somewhat of a change, and, instead of the honor 
of former times, reproaches and insults are now directed to- 
ward us. But, what impresses me as really incredible and 
monstrous is that you should be so disposed toward us as 
to be angered and embittered and should already even threat- 

5 Cf. Plutarch, Life of Alexander. 

1 This Athanasius was appointed to the see of Ancyra through the in- 
fluence of Acacius, Bishop of Caesarea, a leader of the Homooeans. 
However, he himself acquired a reputation for orthodoxy. Cf. Greg. 
Nyss Contra Eunom. 1.11.292. St. Basil speaks highly of him in Letter 
29 This letter was written about the same time as the preceding one, 
before the spring of 368, Cf. Letter 29 n. 1. 

2 Kefaf4n used as a title by St. Basil for both clergymen and laymen. 


en us with violence, according to the report of those who have 
heard you. 

Now, as for the threats (the truth must be told), I indeed 
really laughed at them. In fact, I would be altogether child- 
ish if I feared such bogeys. But, this seemed to me both terrible 
and a matter for deep concern, that your Integrity, 3 whom 
we looked upon as one among the few being preserved for 
the consolation of the churches as a bulwark of sound doctrine 
and seed of the first and true love, should share to such an 
extent in the current mental attitude as to consider the blas- 
phemies of chance-comers of greater weight than your long 
experience with us, and to be led without proof to suspect 
absurd reports to be true. Yet, why do I say 'suspect 5 ? For, 
he who is vexed and threatens, as is reported concerning you, 
seems in some way to have displayed the wrath, not of one 
suspecting, but of a person already clearly and certainly 

Yet, as I have said, we trace the cause to the current 
course of thought. For, how much labor would it have been, 
admirable Sir, for you, in a brief letter, to have discussed 
confidentially with me any desired topic, or, if you would 
not entrust such matters to writing, to have summoned me to 
you? But, if you found it absolutely necessary to speak out, 
and the difficulty of restraining your wrath did not permit of 
delay, surely it would have been possible for you to use as a 
messenger of your words to us some one who is a close friend 
and disposed to keep secret matters confidential. But, now, 
who visits you for any need whatsoever whose ears are not 
ringing with the accusation that we are writing and composing 
certain abominations? Those who report your speeches word 
for word say that you use this very expression. Although I 
have looked upon this matter from every possible viewpoint, 

3 Akribeicm used as a title of address by St. Basil for the clergy alone. 


nothing any longer frees me from a feeling of powerlessness. 
As a consequence, even the thought has come to me that 
some heretic has maliciously affixed my name to his own 
writings, grieving your Rectitude, 4 and causing you to utter 
that speech. Surely, not because of my writings 5 against 
those who dared to say that God the Son was unlike in sub- 
stance to God the Father, or against those who blasphemously 
said that the Holy Spirit was a thing created and made, 
would you permit yourself to bring forward this reproach, 
you who have taken part in those great and famous argu- 
mentations for the sake of right doctrine. But, you yourself 
would free us of this anxiety, if you would be willing to de- 
clare frankly the matters which have moved you to such 
anger against us. 

26. To Caesarius, Brother of Gregory 1 

Thanks be to God, who in your person has manifested 
His wondrous power by saving you from such a terrible 
death, and preserving you both for your country and for 
us, your relatives. It remains for us, indeed, not to be un- 
grateful nor unworthy of so great a bounty. On the con- 
trary, we are convinced that we should proclaim according to 

4 Orth6teta a title of address used by St. Basil for both clergymen and 

5 St. Basil's dogmatic works are: Against Eunomius, written in 363 or 364 
in three books, to which have been added two others probably belong- 
ing to Didymus the Blind; and On the Holy Spirit, written about 375. 

1 Caesarius was the youngest brother of St. Gregory of Nazianzus. A 
narrow escape from death in an earthquake on October 10, 368, had 
occasioned this letter from St. Basil. Shortly after receiving it, Caesa- 
rius retired from the woild. This letter was written in 368. 


our power the miracles of God, extolling in song this loving 
kindness which we have experienced in deed, and we should 
show our gratitude not only by word but also by deed, be- 
coming such as we should be as beneficiaries of the wonders 
performed in your regard. 

And we urge a still better service of God with an increas- 
ing and augmenting fear of Him, and an advancement toward 
perfection, in order that we may prove ourselves prudent 
stewards of the life for which the goodness of God has pre- 
served us. For, if we all are commanded to present 'ourselves 
to God as those who have come to life from the dead,' 2 how 
much more of an obligation is it not for one who has been 
lifted up from the gates of death? This injunction would 
be successfully carried out, I believe, if we were willing al- 
ways to keep the same disposition of mind as we had at the 
time of danger. For, assuredly, in some degree we realized 
the vanity of life as well as the unreliability and instability of 
human affairs, which changed so easily. And, in all likelihood, 
we felt contrition for our past faults, and promised that, for 
the future, if we were saved we would serve God with watch- 
ful exactitude. If the impending danger of death inspired 
us with such reflections, I am indeed convinced that, at that 
time, you arrived at either these or similar considerations. 

Consequently, we stand responsible for the payment of an 
urgent debt. As I am delighted exceedingly with God's gift 
and am also concerned about the future, I have had the 
boldness to remind your Perfection of these matters. It rests 
with you to receive our words aright and kindly, as you have 
indeed been accustomed to do in our conversations with each 

2 Rom. 6 13. 


27 To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 1 

When, by the grace of God and the aid of your prayers, 
I seemed to recover somewhat from my sickness and had 
gathered strength, the winter came, confining us indoors 
and compelling us at the same time to remain in our country. 
In fact, even if we had had a much milder winter than 
usual, it still would have been sufficient to hinder me not 
only from traveling during the season, but even from a pos- 
sible venturing forth from my room. 

Yet, it is no small privilege for me to be held worthy of 
conversing with your Reverence by letters, and to rest in the 
anticipation of your replies. Should the season permit it, 
however, and the span of life for us remain unbroken, and 
the famine not make our journey impracticable, with the 
help of your prayers we would quickly fulfill our desires. And 
if on our arrival we should find you at home, we would in 
all leisure enjoy the benefit of your treasured wisdom. 

28. A Letter of Condolence to the Church of Neo-Caesarea 1 

Truly, that which has befallen you demanded our presence, 
that we might pay to the full with you, our closest friends, 
the honors due to a blessed man, and might share with you, 
at the sight of your greater sorrow, the dejection caused by 

I This is the first of twenty-two letters addressed by St. Basil to his life- 
long friend, Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata (about 260 miles from Cae- 
sarea) , between 360 and 373. Cf. Theodoret, Ecc. Hist. 4.15 and 5.4. 
It is of no importance except as one of the numerous letters testifying 
to St. Basil's almost continual state of ill health. It was written in the 
spring of 368; cf Schafer, op. cit. 34. 

I This letter is assumed to have been written at the death of Musonius, 
Bishop of Neo-Caesarea, of whom St. Basil speaks in Letter 210. It was 
written in the spring of 368; cf. Schafer, loc. cit. 


your misfortune, and, also, that we might with you make 
necessary plans. But, since many things prevented our meet- 
ing in person, our only recourse was to share the present 
sorrows with you by letter. 

The remarkable endowments of the man, which especially 
caused us to consider that his loss was unendurable, could 
not be enumerated within the limits of a letter; besides, it Is 
untimely to bring forward a discourse on the great number 
of his noble deeds, so prostrate is our soul with grief. For, what 
deed of his is such that it would either escape our memory 
or be considered worthy of being passed over in silence? Yet, 
to tell them all at one time would be impossible, and to men- 
tion them in part would, I fear, be a betrayal of the truth. 
A man has departed this life, one who has conspicuously 
surpassed all those about him in all human virtues, a main- 
stay of his country, an ornament of the churches, a pillar 
and support of truth, a solid foundation of faith in Christ, 
a sure protector of his friends, a most invincible foe of his 
opponents, a guardian of the laws of the Fathers, and an 
enemy to innovations. He showed In himself the ancient 
characteristics of the Church, fashioning the church under 
his charge according to its ancient constitution as after some 
sacred pattern, so that his associates seemed to live with those 
who shone like stars two hundred years ago and more. 

Thus, the man brought forth nothing of his own nor any 
discovery of a more recent mind but, according to the bless- 
ing of Moses, he knew how to bring forth from the inner- 
most goodly treasure of his heart 'the oldest of the old and the 
old apart from the new coming on. 32 Thus, he was deemed 
worthy of precedence in the assemblies of the bishops, not 
because of age but by common consent he enjoyed the first 
place, being above all in the age of his wisdom. And for the 

2 Cf Lev. 26 10 


measure of the value of such leading, no one who looks upon 
you need search further. For, you alone of all, or certainly, 
among the few we know, spent a life unshaken by the waves 
under his pilotage in the midst of such a great storm and 
stress of affairs. In fact, the squalls of heretical gusts which 
bring drownings and shipwreck to changeable souls did not 
affect you. And grant that they may never touch them, O 
Master of all, who didst give the favor of tranquillity in the 
highest degree to Gregory, 3 Thy servant, who from the begin- 
ning made firm the foundation of the Church. 

Do not you yourselves lose that tranquillity in this present 
time, and do not, by lamenting excessively and by giving 
yourselves up to sadness, afford the opportunity of constrain- 
ing you to those lying in wait. But, if it is absolutely necessary 
to lament (which I, indeed, do not say, lest in this respect we 
be like those who have no hope 4 ), do you, if it seems best, 
appoint a leader for yourselves and in a more orderly manner 
bewail with him the sad event as a funeral chorus. 

Furthermore, even if this man did not reach extreme old 
age, yet as far as regards the period of his charge over you, 
he did not have an incomplete life. And he was united with 
his body long enough to manifest his strength of soul in his 
sufferings. Perchance, some one of you may assume that time 
brings on an increase of fellow feeling and an augmentation 
of love, and that no occasion of satiety comes to the long ex- 
perienced, so that you feel the loss more deeply in proportion 
to the length of time in which you have enjoyed his kindness. 
Yet, to the pious, even the shadow of a just body is worthy 
of all honor. Would that many of you were of this opinion ! 
I say myself that you must not be negligent regarding him, 
but I advise you to bear your grief with moderation. At all 

3 Gregory Thaumaturgus. 

4 Cf. I Thess. 4J3. 


events, nothing that can be said by those lamenting the loss 
is unknown to me. 

A tongue is silent, one that flooded our ears like a torrent, 
and a heart, whose depth hitherto no one was able to sound, 
now more unsubstantial than a dream, humanly speaking, 
has flown away. Who could more keenly foresee the future 
than he? Who else, of such a firm and steadfast disposition 
of soul as he, was able to accomplish his tasks more swiftly 
than the lightning? O city afflicted already by many calami- 
ties, but, in truth, by none so injured in the very vitals of its 
life"! How your ornament has faded. The church has become 
mute, the assemblies are sad of countenance, the sacred coun- 
cil longs for its leader. The mystical doctrines await an in- 
terpreter; sons, their father, old men, their companion; 
magistrates, their leader; the people, their champion; those 
lacking livelihood, their foster father. All call upon him, each 
in his own affliction and with his own appropriate name, 
and each raises a lament suitable and proper to himself. 

But, whither is my speech carried by the comfort of tears? 
Shall we not recover from our sorrow? Shall we not be 
masters of ourselves? Shall we not look to our common 
Master, who has permitted each of His saints to minister to 
his own generation, recalling him to Himself again at the 
proper moment? Now, in the present circumstances, be mind- 
ful of his words who always, when he had called you to an 
assembly, gave express orders to you, saying: 'Beware of the 
dogs, beware of the evil workers.' 5 The dogs are many. Why 
do I say dogs? Of a truth, they are fierce wolves, concealing 
their deception under the appearance of sheep, and scattering 
the flock of Christ throughout the whole world. Against these 
you, under the care of a watchful shepherd, must be on your 
guard. To seek him is your duty when you have purified 

5 Phil. 3.2. 


your souls of all contention and ambition. But to reveal him 
is the work of the Lord, who from the time of Gregory, the 
great leader of your church, until this blessed man, has given 
one after another, always fitting them together as precious 
stones into a setting, and so has favored you with the won- 
drous beauty of your church. Therefore, we must not despair 
of their successors. The Lord knows His own, and He may 
lead into your midst those, perhaps, whom we do not expect. 

Although I wished long since to bring my words to an 
end, the grief in my heart does not permit it. But I conjure 
you, by the Fathers, by the true Faith, and by this blessed 
man, to rouse your souls, each one judging as his own the 
present concerns and considering that he will have the first 
benefit, whatever the outcome of the affair may be. Do not 
thrust off to a neighbor the care of the public interests, as 
generally happens, for then, since each one in his own mind 
regards the matters as of no importance, all through their 
negligence unconsciously draw upon themselves a personal 

Accept these words with all good will, either as the ex- 
pression of your neighbors 5 sympathy, or of the fellowship 
of those who share the same faith, or even, as is truer, of the 
fellowship of those obeying the law of love and shunning the 
danger of silence. Be persuaded that you are our glory, just 
as we also are yours, till the day of the Lord, and that through 
the shepherd that will be given you we shall be either still 
more closely united with you in the bonds of love or be sub- 
jected to a complete separation. May this never happen! And 
by the grace of God it will not; nor would I myself now 
speak anything offensive. But, this we wish you to know, 
that, even if we did not have this blessed man co-operating 
with us for the peace of the churches on account of certain 
preconceptions, as he himself declared to us, nevertheless, 


with God as my witness and also those men who have had 
experience of us, we declare that on no occasion did we fall 
in our agreement in doctrine and in our summons to him 
as a partner of the contests against the heretics. 

29. A Letter of Condolence to the Church of Ancyra 1 

The distressing report of your sad misfortune shocked us 
for a long time into silence. But, since we have somewhat 
recovered from the speechlessness which we suffered as do 
men who have been struck deaf by a mighty burst of thunder, 
we cannot, in the midst of our mourning over the occurrence, 
refrain from sending you a letter. We do this, not so much 
for your consolation (for what words could ever be found 
that would be able to heal such a great affliction), but to 
reveal to you by this message, as far as is possible, the grief 
of our hearts, for which we would need, indeed, the lamenta- 
tions of Jeremias or of some other blessed man who has 
bitterly bewailed a tremendous calamity. 

In truth, a man, the pillar and support of the Cburch, 
has fallen, or, rather, having gone from us, has been raised 
up to a blessed life. Now, there is no slight chance that 
many, having this prop snatched from under them, may 
fall, and that the corruption of some may become mani- 
fest. A mouth has been closed which impartially spoke frankly 
and graciously for the edification of the brethren. Gone are 
the counsels of a mind which truly moved in God. O how 
frequently (for I must accuse myself) have 1 been indignant 
with him, because, being wholly absorbed in his desire to 
depart and be with Christ/ he did not prefer for our sakes 

1 The death of Athanasius, Bishop of Ancyra, called forth this letter 
of consolation. It was written in the spring of 368; cf. Schafer, loc. cit 


'to stay on in the flesh.' 2 To whom for the future can we 
entrust the cares of the churches? Whom can we take as a 
sharer of our sorrows and of our joys? O terrible and miserable 
loneliness! How truly have we become like to a pelican of 
the wilderness! 3 

But, assuredly, the members of the Church joined as with 
one soul under his leadership and bound together into a 
union of affection and true fellowship are both firmly pre- 
served by those bonds of peace in a spiritual union, and will 
always be thus protected, if God bestows upon us this grace 
that the works that blessed soul undertook for the churches 
of God remain firm and immovable. However, there is no 
slight danger that, because of some chance contention, strifes 
and contentions may spring up again at the election of the 
new leader and overturn at once all past labor. 

30. To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 1 

If I should enumerate, one after another, all the causes 
which have kept me at home until the present time, even 
though I was exceedingly eager to visit your Reverence, I 
would produce a story of interminable length. I omit men- 
tion of my continual illnesses, of the burden of the winter 
season, and of the constant succession of business affairs, 
which are well known and are already familiar to your 
Perfection. But, now, because of my sins, I have been bereft 
of the only consolation which I have had in this life, my 
mother. 2 And do not smile because at my age I lament my 

2 Cf. Phil. 1.23-24. 

3 Cf. Ps. 102.7. 

1 This letter uas written in the summer of 368; SchSfer, loc. dt. 

2 St Emnielia. 


orphanhood, but pardon me for not bearing patiently the 
separation from a soul incomparable among those left be- 
hind. Again, therefore, my illness has recurred, and again I 
am confined to my bed, sorely distressed by my utter weak- 
ness, and momentarily all but expecting the appointed end 
of life. 

Further, the churches are afflicted in much the same 
manner as my body, no good hope dawning upon their 
affairs that are constantly sinking to a lower level. In the 
meantime, however, Neo-Caesarea and Ancyra seem to have 
found successors to the departed and so far they have re- 
mained calm. At least, those plotting against us 3 have not 
been allowed, up to the present time, to do anything com- 
parable to their wrath and bitterness. The reason for this 
we openly attribute to your intercessions for the churches. 
Therefore, do not grow weary of praying and importuning 
God for the churches. Salute with many greetings those 
deemed worthy to assist your Holiness. 4 

31. To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 1 

The famine has not yet released us from its grasp. There- 
fore, we must remain in the city both for the purpose of dis- 
tributing aid 2 and for showing compassion for those in 
affliction. For this reason, I am not able even now to share 
the journey with my most revered 3 brother Hypatius, to 

3 I e., St. Basil and his church. 

4 Hosidteti a title generally used by St. Basil only in addressing bishops. 

1 This letter was written in the autumn of 368; cf. Schafer, /or. cit. 

2 Cf. Letter 91, in which the Eastern bishops count among the evils in 
their churches the appropriation by officials of funds destined for the 
relief of the poor. 

3 Aedesimotdtbi-si title of distinction applied b) St Basil to both clergy- 
men and laymen. 


whom I have the right to give this name, not only as a 
title of respect, but because of the natural relationship ex- 
isting between us, for we are of the same blood. 

Your Honor is not unaware of the nature of the illness 
he suffers. It grieves us that he has been deprived of all hope 
of relief, since those who have the gift of healing have not 
been able to give him any alleviation with their accustomed 
remedies. Therefore, he again implores the aid of your 
prayers, and we, too, urge you to intercede for him in your 
usual manner, both because of your own compassion for the 
sick and for our sake who are interceding for him, and in- 
deed, if possible, summon to yourself the most pious of the 
brothers, so that treatment may be procured for him under 
your very eyes. If this is impossible, then be so kind as to 
send him forward with letters and recommendations. 

32. To the Master Sophronius 1 

Our brother Gregory, 2 the bishop, dearly beloved of God, 3 
is sharing the benefit of these times. For he, also, in common 
with everyone else, suffers the buffetings of successive slanders 

1 Sophronius was a native of Cappadocia and a school companion of St. 
Basil and St. Gregory, who became very prominent in the civil affairs 
of the country. In 365 he was appointed prefect of Constantinople as 
a reward for warning the Emperor Vaiens of the attempted usurpation 
by Procopius; cf. Amm Marc. 25.9. He is known chiefly from the let- 
ters of St. Basil and St. Gregory, who were continually invoking his 
aid for various persons; cf. Letters 76, 96, 177, 180, 192, 272; also Greg. 
Naz., Letters 21, 22, 29, 37, 39, 135. This letter was written in 369. 

2 St. Gregory of Nazianzus is meant here. As he was not a bishop at this 
time, Maran suggests that ho episcopos is a marginal gloss which 
crept into the text. This cannot refer to Gregory the Elder, because he 
did not adopt the monastic life. 

3 Theophilestatos a title of distinction which St Basil uses for bishops 


showered upon him like unexpected blows. For, men who do 
not fear God and who are, perhaps, hard pressed by the 
greatness of their troubles now insolently threaten him on 
the ground that Caesarius 4 borrowed money from them. 

The loss of the money is, indeed, not serious, for he long 
ago learned to despise riches; but, since the executors had 
received very little of Caesarius' wealth, his estate having 
fallen into the hands of slaves and of men no better in char- 
acter than slaves, who freely divided among themselves the 
articles of most value, they, the executors, had very little 
left, and believed that this little belonged to no one. They, 
therefore, both of their own deliberate choice and because 
of the request of the departed, immediately used it for those 
in need. For, it is reported that he said when dying: 'I want 
the poor to have all my possessions' ; therefore, as administra- 
tors of the will of Caesarius, they distributed this property 
with all expediency. And now, both the poverty of a Chris- 
tian and the continual haranguings of demagogues encom- 
pass him. 5 So, it occurred to me to give an explanation to 
your Honor, so worthy of all praise, in order that you might 
discuss with the Prefect of the Treasury the matter of a 
reasonable solution concerning him, and at one and the same 
time show esteem for the man whom you have known of old, 
glorify the Lord who receives as done for Him whatever is 
done for His servants, and honor us, your special friend, 

4 Gregory's brother; cf Letter 26. Caesarius had died, bequeathing all 
his property to the poor and leaving St. Gregory as executor. However, 
servants looted the house, so that St. Gregory found a comparatively 
small amount of money. Furthermore, a number of persons presented 
themselves shortly afterwards as creditors of the estate, and their claims, 
through incapable of proof, were paid. Others then came forward until 
no more were admitted. Then a lawsuit was threatened. To put an end 
to all this, St. Basil wrote this letter to Sophronius, seeking his aid. CL 
Greg. Naz., Letter 29. . 

5 I.e., St. Gregory, the priest, must deal with creditors and claimants. 


and also might In your great wisdom devise a means of re- 
lief from these insulting and intolerable disturbances. 

Surely, no one is so ignorant of Gregory as to suspect 
anything unseemly on his part, such as scheming in this 
affair because he was fond of money. The proof of his liber- 
ality is obvious. He has gladly given up the remainder of 
Caesarius' property to the Treasury, which possessions have 
been taken over, and the advocate of the Treasury answers 
those attacking him and demands proofs, for we ourselves 
are unfitted to attend to such matters. Your Excellency may 
ascertain that, as long as it was possible, no one went away 
from him without obtaining what he wished, but each one 
carried away without difficulty what he sought. As a result, 
many are sorry that they did not ask for more in the first place, 
and this has made the number of slanderers especially large. 
For, keeping in mind the example of the first recipients, one 
false claimant after another appears. 

We urge your Dignity, 6 therefore, to take a stand against 
all these abuses, to hold back the flood, as it were, and en- 
tirely to break off the succession of evils. But, you are well 
aware of how you can aid in this matter, so that you need 
not wait for us to teach you the manner; because of our 
inexperience in world affairs we are ignorant in this case, 
also, of how we may obtain deliverance. Therefore, be 
yourself the counselor and administrator, devising, through 
your own great wisdom, the form of the aid. 

6 Semn6tetaz title of address used by St. Basil for both clergymen and 


33. To Aburgius 1 

Who, indeed, knows as well as you how to honor an old 
friendship, to revere virtue, and to share the sufferings of 
those in distress? So, when troubles, unendurable in any event, 
but especially contrary to his character, overtook our brother 
Gregory, 2 the bishop dearly beloved of God, we thought it 
best to flee to your protection and to try to obtain from you 
deliverance from these vexations. For, it is an intolerable 
situation that one to whom it is not natural nor desirable 
should be compelled to plead his own case in court, and 
that one who is poor should be importuned for money, and 
that one who had long ago decided to spend his life in re- 
tirement should be drawn into court and should be harangued 
by demagogues. Now, your own prudence should decide 
whether it will be useful to discuss the matter with the Pre- 
fect of the Treasury or with some other magistrate. 

34. To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 1 

How can we be silent in the present circumstances? Or, 
since we are not able to endure it patiently, how can we 
speak adequately of the existing conditions, so that our utter- 
ance will not be like a groaning but rather like a lamenta- 

1 Aburgius was an influential lav compatriot of St. Basil, upon whom the 
latter frequently called for aid; cf. Letters 75, 147, 175, 196 (which 
was also attributed to St. Gregory of Nazianzus) , and 304. The date 
of this letter is 369. 

2 As the difficulties referred to are those mentioned in the previous letter, 
it is clearly St. Gregory of Nazianzus, and not St. Gregory of Nyssa, 
who is meant. The words ton episcopon crept into the text from the 
marginal notes. 

1 This letter was written in the autumn of 369; cf. Schafer, loc. cit. 


tion sufficiently evidencing the seriousness of the evil? For, 
even Tarsus 2 is lost to us. And this is not the only calamity, 
although it is unbearable. Nay, more bitter than this is the 
fact that a city so great and so conveniently situated that it 
links together within itself the Isaurians, the Cilicians, the 
Cappadocians, and the Syrians has been so lost through the 
extreme folly of one or two men, while you delayed, and 
planned, and looked at one another. Therefore, in imita- 
tion of doctors (and I generally have a large number of 
illustrations of this kind at hand because of the illness which 
is ever with me) who, whenever the intensity of the pain 
is excessive, produce for the sick insensibility to suffering, it 
would be an excellent practice in the case of cur own souls 
to join in prayer for insensibility to evils, so as not to be 
oppressed by intolerable pains. Nevertheless, although we are 
in such affliction, we experience one consolation when look- 
ing to your Clemency 3 the thought and memory of you calms 
the grief of our soul. For, just as to our eyes some relief is 
afforded by turning back to the blues and greens after having 
looked intently at brilliant objects, so also to our souls the 
memory of your gentleness and graciousness is like some 
gentle touch effacing the pain, especially when we con- 
sider that you have fulfilled your duty as completely as is 
in your power. By these means you have adequately shown 
to us men, if we judge the matter reasonably, that nothing 
has been lost through your fault. Great, too, is the reward 
which you have won from God for yourself because of your 

2 Sylvanus, Metropolitan of Tarsus, had died, and through the neglect 
of the bishops his successor was an Anan. However, many of the priests 
remained orthodox and in friendly communication with St. Basil. Cf. 
Letter 114. 

3 Hemerdtgta a title of address used by St. Basil for clergymen and lay- 


zeal for that which is honorable. May the Lord graciously 
preserve you to us and to His churches for the improvement 

of our lives and the amendment of our souls, and may He 
deem us worthy of the benefit of seeing you again. 

35. Without an Address, in Behalf of Leontius 1 

I have already written to you and shall often write even 
more concerning many persons on the ground that they are 
kinsmen of mine. For, the needy are always with us, nor are 
we able to deny them a favor. Besides, no one is dearer to me 
nor more able to give me relief by his prosperity than my 
most revered brother, Leontius. So, treat his household as 
if you were coming to me myself, not in the state of poverty 
in which I now am with God, but as though I had obtained 
some wealth and was possessed of lands. For, it is evident 
you would not make me a poor man, but would guard my 
present possessions, or even augment my wealth. This, then, 
we entreat you to do in the case of the household of the 
aforementioned man. And for this you will receive from me 
the customary reward a prayer to the holy God for your 
labors a reward for your honesty, and goodness, and fore- 
stalling care of those in need. 

I Written before St Basil's episcopate, asking that justice be done in 
the assessments to Leontius, the same to whom Letter 21 was addressed. 


36. Without an Address, for Assistance 1 

It has long been known to your Nobility, I think, that the 
presbyter of this place is my foster brother. What else, then, 
must I say to persuade your Excellency to look kindly upon 
him and to aid him in his affairs? Indeed, if you love me, 
as you assuredly do, then clearly you will wish to relieve with 
all means in your power those whom I love more than my- 
self. What, then, is it that I request? That the assessment 2 
formerly given be maintained for him. For, he indeed labors 
not a little in rendering service to us for our subsistence, be- 
cause we, as you yourself know, possess nothing of our own, 
but are aided by the resources of our friends and relatives. 
Therefore, look upon the household of my brother as mine, 
or, rather, as your own; and, in return for the good done 
for him, God will provide for both you and your household 
and your whole family His customary assistance. But, realize 
that it is my special concern that this man suffer no mistreat- 
ment in the assessment. 

37. Without an Address, for a Foster Brother 1 

I am already viewing with suspicion the number of my 
letters. Indeed, against my will and because I cannot endure 
the annoyance of people begging us, I am forced to cry out. 
Nevertheless, I write, since I can devise no other method of 
escape than to give letters each time to those asking for them. 

1 Similar to the preceding and written at the same time. 

2 Cf. Justin, Apol. 1.34. 

1 Similar to the two preceding and of the same date. 


Consequently, I fear lest, since many are carrying letters to 
you, this brother may be considered one of the many. I ac- 
knowledge that I have many friends and kinsmen in my native 
land and that I myself am placed in the position of a father 2 
because of this dignity to which the Lord has appointed me. 
But, I have only this one foster brother, the son of my nurse, 
and I pray that his household in which I was reared may 
continue under the same terms of assessment as before, in 
order that the presence of your Modesty, which benefits all, 
may not become an occasion of grief for him. However, I 
am, even at the present time, still supported by this house- 
hold, since I have nothing of my own but am sustained by 
the resources of my loved ones; therefore, I entreat you to 
have consideration for the family in which I was brought up, 
inasmuch as you are preserving the necessities for my sub- 
sistence. And, in return for these favors, may God deem you 
worthy of eternal rest. 

At any rate, I wish this fact, the truest of all, to be known 
to your Modesty, that the majority of his slaves accrued to 
him from us, as a recompense provided by our parents for 
our sustenance. Yet, the recompense is not altogether a gift, 
but a loan for life. Therefore, if he is involved in any serious 
trouble concerning them, 3 he may return them to us and we 
shall become again, in another manner, liable for payments 
and taxes. 

2 Maran considers this to refer to his presbyterate, not to his episcopate. 

3 I.e., if the assessment is increased because of the slaves, the man may 
return them to St. Basil, who will himself then be responsible for the 
increased taxes 


38. To His Brother Gregory, concerning the Difference be- 
tween Substance and Person 1 

Since, at present, many persons treating of the doctrines 
relating to the mystery [of the Trinity] make no distinction 
between the general term of 'substance 9 and the word 'per- 
son,' they fall into the same presumption, thinking that it 
makes no difference whether they say 'substance 5 or 'person.' 
For this reason, too, some of those who accept such ex- 
pressions without examination are satisfied to speak of 'one 
person 3 in God, just as they say 'one substance' ; contrariwise, 
those admitting the three persons believe that they must, be- 
cause of this admission, declare also the division of substances 
into the same number. Therefore, in order that you may 
not be led to embrace similar errors, I have written a short 
explanation of this as a reminder for you. Now, to put it 
briefly, the meaning of these words is as follows. 

Some nouns denominating several objects and objects dif- 
fering in number have a more or less general signification, as 
'man.' For, in saying 'man, 3 a person by means of the name 
points out the common nature but does not describe by this 
word a definite man, one specifically known by that name. 
For, 'man 5 is no more Peter than Andrew, John, or James. 
Therefore, the common quality of that which is signified, 
since it refers likewise to all those grouped under the same 

I This letter, an important explanation of the difference between ousia 
(substance) and hypostasis (person) , is also found among the works of 
St. Gregory of Nyssa addressed to his brother, St Peter of Sebaste. 
However, both from manuscript evidence and for stylistic reasons, as 
well as from the fact that it was referred to in the Council of Chalce- 
doh as a letter of St. Basil's, it has in general been assigned to him, 
and no modern scholar has questioned its Basilian authorship. It was 
written either in 369 or 370, Cf, Letter 8 n. 1, for the definitions of 
the terminology employed by Si. Basil in speaking x>f the Blessed 


name, has need of a specific characterization through which 
we shall recognize, not man In general, but Peter or John. 

Other nouns have a more particular meaning through 
which is considered not the common nature in the object 
indicated but its individual quality, and this distinctive quality 
it does not share with other objects of the same nature, as 
Paul or Timothy. For, such a word refers now not to the 
common nature but, departing from the collective signifi- 
cance, it sets forth through the names used a meaning of 
certain definite objects. Whenever, therefore, in the case of 
two or more objects of the same nature, as Paul and Silvanus 
and Timothy, a name is sought for the substance of man, a 
person will not give one word for substance in the case of 
Paul, another in the case of Silvanus, and still another in the 
case of Timothy; but, whatever words portray the substance 
of Paul, these will also be proper for the others. Moreover, 
they who are designated by the same name with regard to 
their substance are consubstantial with each other. Whenever 
anyone, after having learned the common characteristic, turns 
his consideration to individual qualities through which one 
thing is distinguished from another, no longer will the cogni- 
tive name of each one agree in all respects with that of the 
others, even if in certain points it is found to have the com- 
mon characteristic. 

This, therefore, is our explanation. That which is spoken 
of in the specific sense is signified by the word 'person 5 
[hypostasis]. For> because of the indefiniteness of the term, 
he who says 'man 5 has introduced through our hearing some 
vague idea, so that, although the nature is manifested by the 
name, that which subsists in the nature and is specifically 
designated by the name is not indicated. On the other hand, 
he who says TauP has shown the subsistent nature of the ob- 
ject signified by the name. This, then, is the 'person' [hypo- 


stasis]. It is not the indefinite notion of 'substance' [ousia], 
which creates no definite image because of the generality of 
its significance, but it is that which, through the specific 
qualities evident in it, restricts and defines in a certain object 
the general and indefinite, as is often done in many places 
in Scripture and especially in the story of Job. 2 In the be- 
ginning of the narrative about him, the general term 'man' 
is used; then, immediately, that thought is limited to what 
is particular by adding 'a certain.' However, as to the de- 
scription of the substance nothing is said, since it makes no 
contribution to the proposed object of the discourse; but the 
'certain 5 one is characterized by specific marks, such as situ- 
ation, traits of character, and the external characteristics 
which serve to differentiate him and set him apart from the 
general notion. Consequently, by all these means the name, 
the place, the particular qualities of soul, and the exterior 
characteristics seen in him a clear description is made of 
the man whose story is given. On the other hand, if the mean- 
ing of substance were being given, there would have been no 
mention of the aforesaid matters in the explanation of its 
nature. In fact, the term used would have been the same as 
in mentioning Baldad the Sauhite, Sophar the Minnaean, 
and each of the other men referred to in the story. 3 

Accordingly, you will not err if you transfer to divine 
doctrines this principle of differentiation between substance 
and person which you have recognized in their relation to 
human affairs. Whatever your judgment suggests and how- 
ever it suggests as to the essence of the Father (for it is im- 

2 Cf. Job 1.1: 'There was a man in the land of Hus, whose name was 
Job, and that man was simple and upright, and fearing God, and 
avoiding evil ' 

5 Cf, Job 2.11: 'Now when Job's three friends heard all the evil that 
had befallen him, they came every one from his own place, Eliphaz 
the Thernanite, and Baldad the Suhite, and Sophar the Naamathite. 


possible to superimpose any definite concept upon the im- 
material because of our persuasion that it is above every 
concept), this you will hold for the Son and likewise for 
the Holy Spirit. For, the term 'Being Uncreated and In- 
comprehensible 3 is one and the same in meaning regarding 
the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. For, one is not 
more incomprehensible and uncreated, and the other less. 
But, since it is necessary, in the case of the Trinity, to keep 
a clear distinction [of persons] by means of individualizing 
marks, we shall not include in the determining individual 
mark that which is observed to be common, such as the 
attribute I mention of being uncreated or of being beyond 
all apprehension, or any other such. We shall seek only the 
qualities by which the concept of each shall be clearly and 
sharply distinguished from that concept obtained when they 
are contemplated together. 

Therefore, it seems well to me to follow up the discussion 
in this way. Everything good which comes to us from the 
divine power we say is the action of grace working all things 
in all, as the Apostle says: 'But all these things are the 
work of one and the same Spirit, who divides to everyone 
according as he will/ 4 Moreover, when we inquire if the 
abundant blessings thus accruing to the worthy have their 
source in the Holy Spirit alone, again we are guided by the 
Scripture to the belief that the Only-begotten God is the 
author and cause of the abundance of blessings wrought in 
us through the Spirit. For, that all things were made through 
Him and stand together in Him, we have been taught by 
Holy Scripture. 5 Furthermore, when we have been lifted up 
to that conception, again being led on by the divinely in- 
spired guidance, we are taught that through this power all 

4 1 Cor. 12.11. 

5 Cf. John 1.3; also, Col. 1.17. 


things are brought from non-existence into existence, but 
that is not done indeed even by this power without a begin- 
ning. Still, there is a certain power subsisting without gen- 
eration and without beginning, which Is the principle of the 
principle of all things which exist. For, from the Father is 
the Son, through whom are all things and with whom the 
Holy Spirit is always inseparably associated. In fact, it is 
not possible for one not previously enlightened by the Spirit 
to arrive at a conception of the Son. Since, therefore, the 
Holy Spirit from whom all the abundance of benefits pours 
out upon the creature is linked with the Son with whom He 
is inseparably comprehended, and has His existence depend- 
ent on the Father as a principle, from whom He also pro- 
ceeds, this He has as the distinguishing mark of the individ- 
uality of His person, namely, that He is made known after 
the Son and with the Son and that He subsists from the 

Now, the Son, who through Himself and with Himself 
makes known the Spirit which proceeds from the Father and 
who alone shines forth as the Only-begotten from the Un- 
begotten Light, shares in common with the Father or with 
the Holy Spirit none of the peculiar marks by which the 
Son is known, but He alone is recognized by the marks just 
mentioned. Furthermore, the supreme God alone has a certain 
special mark of His person by which He is known, namely, 
that He is the Father and subsists from no other principle; 
and, again, through this mark He Himself is also individually 
recognized. On this account we say that in the general qual- 
ity of substance the distinguishing marks observed in the 
Trinity through which the individuality of the persons as 
handed down in the faith is presented are distinct and not 
shared, since each person is comprehended separately by its 
own characteristic marks. As a consequence, through the 


marks just mentioned, the distinction of persons is attained, 
but, regarding the attribute of infinity and incomprehensi- 
bility, and that of being uncreated and of being circumscribed 
within no space, and in all other such attributes, there is 
no difference in the life-producing nature I mean in the 
case of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit 
but there is observed a certain constant and uninterrupted 
sharing in them. Through whatever thoughts one apprehends 
the majesty of any one of the persons which we believe to 
be in the Blessed Trinity, through the same thoughts he will 
advance in precisely the same way, viewing the glory in the 
Father and in the Son and in the Holy Spirit, since the intel- 
ligence does not tread on a gap between the Father and the 
Son and the Holy Spirit. For, there is nothing which intrudes 
itself between these persons, and nothing else subsisting be- 
yond the divine nature that is able to separate it from itself 
through the interposition of something not belonging to it, 
nor is there a void due to any space lacking person, which 
causes the harmony of the divine substance to gape open, 
severing the continuity by the insertion of the void. But, he 
who has apprehended the Father has both apprehended Him 
in Himself and has also included the Son in the concept. 
And he who has received the Son has not separated the Holy 
Spirit from the Son, but, consistently according to the order 
and conjointly according to their nature, he has imaged to 
himself his belief, which is a blending at the same time of 
the three persons. And he who has mentioned only the Spirit 
has embraced with It by this admission Him from whom the 
Spirit proceeds. And since He is the Spirit of Christ and from 
God, as Paul 6 says, just as he who has grasped one end of a 
chain also draws along with him the other end, so he who 

6 Cf. Rom. 8.9: 'But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he 
does not belong to Christ/ 


draws the Spirit, as the Prophet 7 says, through Him draws 
along both the Son and the Father. And if he would truly 
apprehend the Son, he will hold Him on both sides, on one, 
indeed, bringing His Father along with Him, and on the 
other His own Spirit. For, neither will it be possible for 
Him who exists eternally in the Father to be cut off from the 
Father, nor will He who works all things in the Spirit ever 
be parted from His own Spirit. Similarly, he who receives the 
Father also virtually receives along with Him both the Son 
and the Spirit. For, it is impossible in any way to think of a 
severance or a division, so that the Son is considered apart 
from the Father, or the Spirit is separated from the Son; 
but there is found in them a certain inexpressible and in- 
comprehensible union and distinction, since neither the dif- 
ference of the persons breaks the continuity of the nature, 
nor the common attribute of substance dissolves the individual 
character of their distinctive marks. But, do not wonder if 
we say that the same thing is both joined and separated and 
if, as in a riddle, we contrive something both strange and 
incredible, a conjoined separation and a separated union. 
Nay, unless one listens to the explanation contentiously and 
haughtily, it is possible for him to find such a condition in 
the things which are perceived. 

Receive my explanation, indeed, as an illustration and a 
shadow of the truth, not as the truth itself of the matters. For, 
it is impossible that what is observed in illustrations be ca- 
pable of exact adaptation to that for which the need of il- 
lustration is admitted. Why, then, do we say that that which 
is separated and at the same time united is inferred by 
analogy from the things which appear to our senses? In 
spring, at various times you have beheld the brilliance of the 

7 A misinterpretation, perhaps intentional, of Ps 119.131: 'eilkusa 
pneuma/'! drew breath* or *I panted ' 


bow in the clouds I mean the arc which common speech 
is accustomed to call the Yainbow.' Those experienced in these 
matters say that it is formed at a time when some moisture 
is mixed in with the air. The force of the wind presses into 
rain the damp and thick vapors which have already become 
cloudy. And they say that the rainbow is formed in this 
way. When the sunbeam stealing obliquely through the com- 
pact and opaque cloudy mass rests its circle veritcally on 
some cloud, there is produced, as it were, a certain bending 
and return of the light upon itself, since the brightness is re- 
turned in the opposite direction from the moist and gleam- 
Ing particles. For, since it is the nature of the flame-like 
sparks, if they fall upon any smooth surface, to be reflected 
again to themselves, and since the shape of the sun produced 
by the ray on the moist and smooth particle of the air is 
circular, the shape of the solar circle necessarily is outlined 
by the reflected brightness, then, in the air lying around the 
cloud. Now, this brightness is both continuous with itself 
and is broken up. For, being of many colors and shapes it is 
imperceptibly intermingled with the varied hues of the dye, 
stealing unawares from our eyes the point of contact of the 
different colors with each other. As a result, between the 
blue-green and the flame-color, or the flame-color and the 
purple, or that and the amber, the space which both mixes 
and separates the two colors cannot be discerned. For, when 
the rays of all colors are seen at the same time they are dis- 
tinct, and yet, by concealing the points of their contact with 
each other, they also elude our scrutiny, so that it is impos- 
sible to find out how far the red color or the green of the 
radiance extends, and from what point it begins to be no 
longer such as it is perceived in the distinct parts. 8 

8 St. Basil seems to be ignorant of the order of the colors of the spec- 
trum. But the Greek terms for the colors are vague, and no one of 
the equivalents used in the translation is really certain. 


Accordingly, as in the illustration we clearly discern the 
different colors and yet cannot detect by observation the lines 
of separation of one from the other, consider, I pray, that it 
is possible also to draw inferences concerning the divine dog- 
mas, to reason that the specific qualities of the persons, like 
any one of the brilliant colors which appear in the rainbow, 
flash in each of those persons which we believe to be in the 
Holy Trinity, but that no distinction is observed in the peculiar 
character of the nature of one as compared with the other. 
Yet, in the common property of the substance, the distinguish- 
ing individual qualities of each shine forth. For, even there 
in the illustration it was one substance which flashed forth 
that many-colored light, the one which was reflected through 
the solar ray, but the brilliance of the bow which appeared 
was of many kinds. Reason also teaches us through the creat- 
ed object not to feel disturbed In the discussions about doc- 
trine when, falling upon facts hard to understand, we become 
dizzy at the acceptance of the matters discussed. For, just as 
in the case of those things which are seen by the eyes, ex- 
perience seemed better than a theory of causation, so also, in 
the case of the dogmas which transcend our comprehension, 
faith is mightier than the direct apprehension through rea- 
soning, since it teaches both that which is separated in person 
and that which is united in substance. Since, therefore, our 
discussion has considered on the one hand that which is com- 
mon to the persons of the Blessed Trinity, and on the other, 
what is peculiar to each, we may say that the substance is 
the common attribute, but the person is the specific quality 
of each. 

Yet, some may think that the doctrine of the person as 
thus set forth does not agree with the thought expressed in 
the writings of the Apostle, in which he says concerning the 
Lord that He is the 'brightness of his glory and the image 


of his person.' 9 For, if we have explained that 'person' is the 
combination of the specific qualities in each [member of the 
Trinity] and it is admitted, as in the case of the Father, that 
that which is observed of an individualizing nature is some- 
thing through which He alone is known, and in the same 
manner a like belief is held concerning the Only-begotten, 
how does the Scripture in this passage ascribe the name of 
'person' to the Father alone, and say that the Son is a form 
'of his person/ characterized not by His own, but by the dis- 
tinguishing marks of the Father? For, if the person is the 
special sign of the existence of each member and, further, it 
is admitted that being 'unbegotten 5 is peculiar to the Father, 
but the Son has been formed by the attributes peculiar to 
the Father, then no longer, as it seems, does it remain to 
the Father exclusively to be called the 'Unbegotten 5 in the 
sense of Himself alone, if, indeed, the existence of the Only- 
begotten is characterized by the property peculiar to the 

But, we may say this, that the expression fulfills in this pas- 
sage another purpose of the Apostle, and looking toward 
that aim he used these words, saying: 'the brightness of his 
glory and the image of his person.' Now, if one carefully 
considers it, he will not find that it conflicts with the state- 
ment made by us, but that it supports the meaning of a 
certain particular idea. For, the statement of the Apostle 
does not elaborate on how the persons are distinguished from 
each other by the marks appearing in them, but how the 
true sonship and the inseparable and intimate relationship 
of the Son with the Father is apprehended. For, he did not 
say 'who being the glory of the Father, 5 although this is the 
truth, but, neglecting this as being already admitted, in teach- 
ing us to consider not one form of glory in the Father and 

9 Cf. Heb 1 3., where St. Paul uses the word 'hypostasis' (person) 


another in the Son, he defines the glory of the Only-begotten 
as 'the brightness of the glory of the Father,' establishing from 
the illustration of the light the inseparable inclusion of the 
Son in our idea of the Father. For, as the brightness is from 
the flame, and not, Indeed, a radiance coming after the flame, 
but at the same time that the flame is enkindled the light 
also flashes forth, so also he wishes the Son to be considered 
as from the Father, not, indeed, for the Only-begotten to be 
separated by some dimensional interval from the existence of 
the Father, but for that which is from the principle always 
to be understood together with the principle. 

Therefore, In the same manner, as if explaining the idea 
set forth before, he says: 'and the image of his person/ guid- 
ing us by means of illustrations pertaining to the body to the 
perception of the invisible. For, although the body exists 
entirely in form, there is one meaning of 'form' and another 
of 'body, 5 and no one giving the definition of either of these 
would make use of one definition for the other. However, 
even if by reason you could separate the figure from the 
body, nature does not admit the separation, but the one is 
considered conjointly with the other. And so the Apostle 
thinks that, even though the doctrine of faith teaches that the 
difference of persons is unconfused and distinct, nevertheless, 
it is necessary to present, through his words just quoted, the 
close connection and, as It were, the congenital union of the 
Only-begotten with the Father, not because the Only-begot- 
ten also does not exist in person 10 but because He does not 
admit any intervening space in His oneness with the Father. 
Consequently, he who has looked intently at the image of the 
Only-begotten through the eyes of his soul also arrives at an 

10 I.e., not in the sense that the relationship between the Father and 
Son is merely a figure of speech and that the Father and the Son are 
not distinct Persons. 


understanding of the 'person' of the Father; yet, the Individ- 
uality observed in them is neither interchanged nor inter- 
mingled so that we pretend begottenness as an attribute of 
the Father and unbegottenness as an attribute of the Son, 
but so that, if we separate one from the other, which is im- 
possible, we comprehend the remaining one by Himself alone. 
For, it is impossible, when naming the Son, not to think also 
of the Father, since this appellation naturally suggests the 
Father, also. 

Since, therefore, he who has seen the Son sees also the 
Father, as the Lord says in the Gospels, 11 on this account the 
Apostle asserts that the Only-begotten is 'the image of the 
person' of the Father. And in order that the thought may be 
more clearly perceived, we shall also include in our discus- 
sion other words of the Apostle in which he says that the 
Son is an 'image of the Invisible God, 512 and, again, 'an 
image of his goodness, 513 not because the image differs from 
the archetype as far as concerns the meaning of invisibility 
and goodness, but in order that it may be shown that It is 
identical with the original although it Is something else. For, 
the meaning of 'image' would not be preserved unless in all 
respects it would be clearly and exactly similar to the arche- 
type. Certainly, then, he who has perceived the beauty of 
the image arrives at an understanding of the archetype. And 
he who has conceived in his mind the 'form, 9 as It were, of 
the Son conceives an 'image of his [Father's] person,* in look- 
ing at the latter through the former, since he does not behold 
the unbegottenness of the Father in the representation (for 
surely, then, the Son would be wholly the same and not some 
one else), but observing closely the unbegotten beauty In the 

11 C. John 14.9. 

12 Col. 1.15. 

13 Wisd. 7.26. These words are ascribed to Solomon. 


Begotten. For, as he who has noticed in a clean mirror the 
reflection of a form has a clear knowledge of the face reflected, 
so he who has learned to know the Son has received in his 
heart the 'image of his [Father's] person' through the knowl- 
edge of the Son. For, all the attributes of the Father are be- 
held in the Son, and all the attributes of the Son belong also 
to the Father, since both the whole Son remains in the Father 
and has the whole Father in Himself. 14 Therefore, the person 
of the Son becomes, as it were, the form and face of the 
knowledge of the Father, and the person of the Father is 
known in the form of the Son, although the individuality ob- 
served in them remains for the clear distinction of their 
persons. 15 

39. Julian to Basil 1 

'Thou cornest not as a messenger of war,' the proverb 2 
says, but I would add from the comedy/ 'O messenger of 

14 Cf. John 1410. 

15 Thus St Basil expresses the orthodoxy of the Trinity in one phrase 
'mia ousid, treis tiypostaseis' (one substance, three persons) Never 
again in his writings does he use 'hypostasis' in its earlier sense as 
equivalent to 'ousza,' Cf. Athan., Oral contra Arianos. 3.64 and 4 33 

1 The Emperor Julian was a student at Athens when St. Basil was there, 
but nothing Is known o their relations with each other except what 
has been assumed from this and the two following letters Letter 39 
is found among the letters of the Emperor Julian, but the Basil to 
whom it is addressed is not St Basil. It was first introduced among 
St. Basil's letters by Claude Morel in 1618, it is not contained in any 
of the manuscripts of letters. Furthermore, it speaks of the recipient as 
versed in court diplomacy, and St. Basil certainly was not. The date 
of its composition must be shortly after Julian became emperor, in the 
winter of 361-362, since at that period alone can it be said that he had 
any leisure. Cf. Bessieres, op. cit. 344, for contrary opinion, cf. W. C. 
Wright, Julian, in L C.L. II xli. 

2 Plato, Legg. 4.702D; Phaedr. 242B. 

3 Aristotle, Pint. 268. 



golden words.' Come, then, prove this by your deeds, and 
hasten to us, for you will come as a friend to a friend. 4 

Regular and constant occupation in affairs of state seems 
to be somehow burdensome to those who make it subordinate 
to their principal interest, 5 but those sharing in my respon- 
sibility are, I am convinced, honorable and intelligent, and 
entirely reliable in all respects; therefore I grant myself some 
relaxation, so that it is possible even to take a holiday with- 
out neglecting anything. For, our life together is not spent 
In mere court diplomacy of which I think you have hitherto 
had experience through which men, although praising, feel 
more hatred than they would ever feel against their bitterest 
enemies. On the contrary, we, who both refute and censure 
each other with becoming frankness whenever it is necessary, 
love one another no less than do the closest companions. So, 
It is possible for us 6 (may there be no envy!), while relaxing, 
to pursue our studies; and while studying, not to be distressed; 
and to sleep undisturbed, since, when I am awake, I do not 
bestir myself for my own sake more, in all probability, than 
for the sake of everyone else. 

I have, perhaps, wearied and overwhelmed you with this 
Idle chatter, being somewhat stupid (for I have been prais- 
ing myself like Astydamas 7 ), but I have sent this letter In 
order that I may persuade you that your presence, Inasmuch 
as It Is that of a sensible man, will be of some advantage to 
us rather than a waste of time. 

Hasten, then, as I have said, and make use of a state 

4 Cf Plato, Menexen. 247B. 

5 Julian is intimating that his first interest is his studies. 

6 I.e., to himself, the Emperor. 

7 An Athenian tragic poet of the fourth century B.C He wrote a laudatory 
inscription to be carved upon a pedestal of a bust of himself which the 
people had voted in his honor, and Philemon, the poet, gibed him. 
See Philemon, frag. 190 (Kock) . 


conveyance, 8 When >ou have spent as much time with us as 
you please, you will' be taken by us, as is proper, wherever 
you wish to go. 

40. Julian to Basil 1 

Although up to the present time we have shown the gentle- 
ness and kindliness natural from childhood, nevertheless we 
have gathered in all peoples under the sun as our subjects. 
For, lo ! every nation of barbarians as far as the boundaries 
of the ocean has come, bringing gifts and placing them at 
our feet, as also have the Sagadares, who live along the 
Danube, 2 that comely, parti-colored, beetle-shaped folk, wild 
in aspect, and unlike human beings in appearance. These at 
present are prostrate at my feet, promising to do whatever is 
due to my sovereignty. And not only by this alone am I drawn 
on, but I must speedily seize the country of the Persians and 
subdue the renowned Sapor, the grandson of Darius, until 
he becomes tributary and pays taxes to me. At the same 

8 The privilege of free transport at the expense of the State, granted to 
ecclesiastics bv Constantme in 314, was revoked by Julian in 362 (Codex 
Theodos 85 12) , * ho reserved to himself the right to make exceptions 
as a special mark of his favor. Cf. Wright, IntrocL to Vol. 3, L.C.L. 
edition of Julian. 

1 This letter and the following have been considered unauthentic even 
from Byzantine times. The manuscript tradition does not support their 
authenticity; besides, Letter 40 is written to St. Basil as to a person 
of influence at Caesarea, whereas St. Basil was at that time m seclu- 
sion at Pontus, not yet a presbyter; and Letter 41 is, in diction and 
subject matter, entirely unworthy of St. Basil. Moreover, the two letters 
form a pair and, if Letter 40 falls, then Letter 41 must go with it. 
The assumed date is June or July, 362. , 

2 Julian always uses the name 'Ister* for the Danube; cf. Wright, op. cit. 
Ill xlii. 


time I must despoil the neighboring lands of both the Indians 
and Saracens, until all these become tributaries and tax-pay- 
ers, holding second rank to me in my empire. 

But you yourself have shown arrogance beyond the capac- 
ity of all these, claiming to have put on piety, but covering 
yourself with shamelessness, everywhere spreading abroad the 
report that I have become unworthy of the sovereignty of the 
Romans. Do you not yourself, indeed, know that I am the 
descendant of that mighty ruler Constantius? 

Although we know these things about you, we have not 
changed in the previous esteem which you and I shared In 
our youth. But, in a spirit of gentleness, I decree that you send 
me one thousand pounds of gold to be given while I am on 
the highway passing through Caesarea, since I am going at 
great speed to the Persian War. If you do not do this, I am 
ready to destroy the whole country of Caesarea, to over- 
throw the beautiful structures erected long ago, and to build 
throughout the country both temples and statues of the gods, 
so as to persuade all men to yield to the emperor of the Ro- 
mans and not to exalt themselves. Therefore, send to me safely 
by a servant who is faithful to you the gold already referred 
to, counted out, weighed by scale, steelyard, and balance, and 
duly measured, then sealed with your signet, so that I, recog- 
nizing at length, even though late, the Inevitable state of af- 
fairs, 3 may be gentle toward you in your fallings. But what I 
have read I have understood and condemned. 4 

3 Julian had urgent business the Persian War ahead of him. Hence, 
if he received the money, he would leave Basil free. 

4 Cf. last sentence in Letter 41. There is little manuscript authority for 
either remark. 


41. Basil to Julian, in Answer 1 

Inconsequential are the vaunted deeds of your present high 
fortune. Miserable, also, is your boasted valor directed against 
us, yet not against us but against yourself. On my part, I 
shudder whenever I recall that you are invested with the 
purple and that your unworthy head is adorned with a 
crown; for all this without piety is not honorable, but renders 
your reign dishonored. Yet, since you have returned and have 
become exceedingly great, although, indeed, wicked spirits 
and those which hate all good raised you to this, you have 
begun not only to be presumptuous above all human kind, 
but also to exalt yourself above God, and to mock the Church, 
the mother and nurse of all, by informing me, the most un- 
worthy of men, that I should despatch to you a thousand 
pounds of gold. 

While the weight of the gold did not astound me, even 
though it was exceedingly great, still it caused me to weep 
bitterly at your extraordinarily swift fall. For, I recalled how 
your Honor and I together had studied the sacred and most 
excellent literature. We both read the holy and divinely in- 
spired Scriptures, and at that time nothing escaped you. Now, 
however, you have became disordered in mind, beset by so 
much pride. You knew before yesterday, most Serene Sir, 3 
that we are not ruled by greed for money, but now your letter 
demands that we send you a thousand pounds of gold. There- 
fore, be willing, most Serene Sir, to spare us who possess so 
little that, if we should wish to eat today, there would not be 

1 Cf. Letter 40 n. 1. For a fuller discussion of the authenticity of Letter 
41, cf. Sister Agnes Clare Way, 'The Authenticity of Letter 41 in the 
Julio-Basihan Correspondence/ American Journal of Philology 51 
(1930) 67-69. 

2 Julian returned to Constantinople from Gaul on Dec. 11, 361, becoming 
Emperor on the death of Constantius. 


enough for us. For the art of cooking is very properly neglect- 
ed in our house, and the knives of the cooks do not come in 
contact with blood. Our principal foods, in which lies our 
abundance, consist of leafy vegetables with very coarse bread 
and sour wine. As a result, our faculties are not so stupified 
by gluttony that they direct our actions foolishly. 

Lausus, your much admired tribune, loyal to your inter- 
ests, announced this also to me, that a certain woman ap- 
proached your Serenity 4 after the loss of her son through 
poisoning, and that you decreed that poisoners should not 
be tolerated anywhere, 5 and that, if there were any, they 
should be executed, or only those should be saved who would 
combat wild beasts. And this so rightly decreed by you has 
seemed strange to me, since it is altogether ridiculous that 
you should attempt to allay such great sufferings with these 
trivial remedies. 6 For, since you have insulted God, you as- 
sume in vain the care of widows and orphans. In fact, the 
one step is an act of madness and peril, and the other the 
action of a compassionate and merciful man. 

It is a serious matter for us, being but a private citizen, to 
speak thus to an emperor, but it will seem more grievous for 
you to speak to God. For, no one will appear as mediator be- 
tween God and man. Yet, what you have read you have not 
understood; for, if you understood, you would not have con- 

3 Galenotatez title of distinction not found in St. Basil's authentic 

4 Galenotetos a title of address not found in St. Basil's authentic 

5 Cf. St. Cyprian, Letter 15: 'Ugibus nostris bene atque utiliter censu- 
istis delatores non esse.' 

6 The Greek word for 'poison' also means 'drugs' or 'remedies.' There 
seems to be a play on the two meanings. 

7 Cf. Soz. 5.18, where the closing words o Letter 40 are attributed to 
Julian as addressed 4 to the bishops/ and the closing words of Letter 41 
are ascribed to these bishops in answer to Julian. Cf. also note 4 of the 
preceding letter. 


42. To Chilo, His Pupil 1 

I shall become responsible for your salvation, my true 
brother, If you willingly accept our counsels as to your line 
of conduct, especially in those matters wherein you yourself 
have urged us to advise you. For, many have dared to begin 
the solitary life, but few, perhaps, have labored to bring it to a 
worthy end. By no means is the fulfillment in the mere inten- 
tion, but in the fulfilling we have the fruit of our labors. For 
those, therefore, who do not hasten toward the accomplish- 
ment of their aim and who undertake the life of the monk only 
as far as the beginning, there is no profit; nevertheless, they 
abandon their purpose, a ridiculous act, for which they ^are 
accused by those on the outside of cowardice and indecision. 
Concerning such people the Lord says: 'For who, wishing to 
build a house, does not sit down first and calculate the out- 
lays that are necessary, whether he has the means to complete 
it? Lest after he has laid the foundation and is not able to 
finish, . . . they begin to mock him saying, "This man began 
to build and was not able to finish!" 52 Therefore, let the 
beginning contain the germ of zealous progress toward virtue. 
For, the most noble athlete, Paul, desiring that we should not 
be careless because of our previous good deeds, but should 
go forward day by day, says: 'Forgetting what is behind, I 
strain forward to what is before, I press on towards the goal, 
to the prize of God's heavenly call.' 3 Such is the whole life 

1 No ancient manuscripts of the letters of St. Basil contain Letter 42 
Moreover, a note found beside the letter in the Codex Regius 2895 
reads 'Some attribute this letter to the holy Nilus.* Cf. Bessieres, 
op aL 344. Furthermore, it appears in several manuscripts of the 
homilies, and should properly be considered among homilies rather 
than among letters. It is supposed to have been written before the 
time of St. Basil's episcopate. f t 

2 Cf. Luke 14.28-30. The quotation is given almost verbatim, but oetton 
replaces 'piirgon' of the Septuagint. 

3 PhiL 3 13-14. 


of man. Not content with the things that have gone before, 
he Is supported not by things past, but rather by the things 
to come. Why, what does it profit a man to have dined well 
yesterday, if today his natural hunger does not find food for 
Its proper satisfaction? Likewise, there is no gain for the 
soul from yesterday's virtue, if that virtue is deprived of to- 
day's just actions. Tor, as I find you, 5 He says, 'so shall I 
judge you.' 4 

Therefore, the labor of the just is fruitless, and even the 
way of the sinner is blameless, if followed by change, in the one 
from better to worse, and, in the other, from worse to better. 
This can also be understood from Ezechiel 5 as from the Lord 
teaching in person. 'For if, J he says, 'the just man, turning 
himself away from his justice, do iniquity, I shall not remem- 
ber his justices which he formerly did, but he shall die in 
his sin.' And he also says this about the sinner: 'If turning 
away from his sin he shall do justice, he shall surely live.* 6 
For, where were the great labors of His servant Moses, since 
the contradiction of a moment cancelled his entrance to 
the land of promise? And where was the close association 
of Giezi with Eliseus, since the former brought leprosy 7 on 
himself by his love of money. Also, what profit to Solomon 
were his vast store of wisdom and his great devotion toward 
God in his previous life, since later, because of his infatuation 
for women, he fell into idolatry? And not even his lofty 
position left the blessed David blameless for his sin against 
the wife of Uriah. 8 Sufficient also was the example of the 
fall of Judas from better to worse for the salvation of him 

4 Cf. Ezech. 7.3. 

5 Cf. Ezech. 18.24. 

6 Cf. Ezech. 18.27-28. 

7 Cf. 4 Kings 5. 

8 Bathsheba. 


who lives his life according to God. Judas, though he was 
a disciple of Christ for such a long time, later sold his 
Teacher for a little gain and by his labors prepared a rope 
for himself. 

Therefore, be this known to you, brother, that not he who 
begins well is perfect, but he who ends well is approved by 

Do not, then, give sleep to your eyes, brother, nor slumber 
to your eyelids, 9 that you may be saved as the doe from the 
noose and as the bird from the snare. 10 For, behold, you are 
going through the midst of the snares and walking about a 
lofty wall from which a misstep is not without danger for 
one who falls. Therefore, do not strive to reach immediately 
the highest perfection of the ascetic life; especially, do not be 
self-confident, lest, through inexperience, you fall from the 
heights of asceticism; it is better to advance little by little. 
Therefore, gradually steal away from the pleasures of life, 
utterly destroying every worldly habit of yours, lest, having 
aroused all your sensual desires at once, you should bring upon 
yourself a multitude of temptations. But, when with all your 
might you have prevailed over one passion of pleasure, gird 
yourself against another, and thus you will prevail in good 
time over all such pleasures. For, Indeed, the name of pleasure 
is one, but the accompanying circumstances are various. 
Therefore, brother, be first of all patient in the face of every 
trial. But, by what sort of temptation is the faithful man 
proved? By losses of worldly possessions, by accusations, by 
false representations, by disobediences, by evil reports, by 
persecutions. By these and similar tests is the faithful man 

Secondly, be also quiet, not precipitate in speech, not 

9 Cf. Ps. 132.4. 
10 Cf. Ps. 124.7. 


quarrelsome, not contentious, not conceited, not desirous to 
explain but to believe; be not talkative, but be ever ready to 
learn rather than to teach. Do not busy yourself about world- 
ly affairs, from which no profit accrues to you. For, it is said: 
That my mouth may not speak the works of men.' 11 He 
who willingly talks of the deeds of sinners readily arouses 
desires of pleasure in himself. Rather, be occupied about the 
life of the just, for thus you will find profit for yourself. Do 
not be ostentatious, visiting houses in the villages, but flee 
these as snares of the soul. And if anyone through his great 
piety invites you to his house on various pretexts, let such a 
one learn to be guided by the faith of the centurion, who, 
when Jesus was hastening to him in order to work a cure, 
besought Him not to come, saying: 'Lord, I am not worthy 
that thou shouldst come under my roof; but only say the 
word, and my servant will be healed.' 12 And when Jesus an- 
swered him: 'Go thy way; as thou hast believed, so be it 
done to thee,' 13 the servant was cured from that hour. Be this 
known to you, therefore, brother, that not the presence of 
Christ, but the faith of him who asked, freed the sick man. So 
it is also now; if you pray in whatever place you are, and the 
sick person believes that he will be aided by your prayers, 
all things will result according to his will. 

Furthermore, you shall not love your relatives more than 
the Lord. Tor he who loves/ He says, 'father or mother or 
brothers more than me is not worthy of me. 514 What does 
this precept of the Lord mean? 'If anyone,' He says, s does 
not carry his cross, and follow me, he cannot be my disciple.' 16 
If you would die with Christ to your relatives according to 

11 Ps. 16.4. 

12 Matt. 8 8. 

13 Matt. 8.13. 

14 Cf. Matt. 10.37. 

15 Cf. Luke 14.27. 


the flesh, why do you wish to be among them again? And 
if what you have destroyed for Christ you build up again 
for your relatives, you make yourself an apostate. Therefore, 
you should not withdraw from your dwelling place because 
of the need of your relatives, for, in departing from your place 
of living, you will perhaps depart from your way of life. 16 
Do not be a lover of the crowd, nor of your country, nor of 
your fellow citizens, but of solitude, remaining in it always 
unwaveringly, believing that prayer and the singing of psalms 
are your work. And do not neglect reading, especially of the 
New Testament, because harm often arises from reading 
the Old Testament, not because harmful things were writ- 
ten, but because the minds of those who are harmed are 
weak. All bread is nourishing, but to the sick it may be hurt- 
ful. So, also, all Scripture is divinely inspired and useful, and 
there is nothing unclean 17 in it, except it be unclean to him 
who thinks it is unclean. But test all things; hold fast that 
which is good. Keep yourself from every kind of evil/ 18 for 
'all things are lawful, but not all things are expedient. 519 
Therefore, be not a stumbling-block 20 in any way to those 
with whom you meet; be cheerful, a lover of the brethren, 21 
gentle, humble; do not forfeit the aim of hospitality 22 by seek- 
ing extravagant foods, but be content with what is at hand, 
and take nothing more from anyone than what the daily 
needs of the solitary life require. And, especially, shun gold 

16 The play upon t6pos (place) and trdpos (character) cannot be 
exactly reproduced in English. 

17 Cf. 2 Tim. 3.16. 

18 I Thess. 5.21-22. The quotation is in the exact words of the Scripture, 
but the verbs have been made singular. 

19 Cf. 1 Cor. 6 12 

20 Cf. 1 Cor. 1032. 
2! Cf. 1 Peter 38. 

22 The free offerings of the pious, on which the monks depended. Their 
gluttony would discourage entertainment. 


as an enemy of the soul, the father of sin, and the servant 
of the Devil. Do not make yourself liable to the charge of 
avarice 23 under the pretext of serving the poor. If anyone 
brings you money for the needy, and you know that there are 
some in want, advise him to whom the money belongs to 
carry it himself to his needy brothers, lest at some time the 
acceptance of money should sully your conscience. 

Flee pleasures; seek to attain self-control; train the body 
indeed by labor; and accustom the soul to trials. Regarding 
the separation of body and soul as deliverance from all evil, 
await eternal blessings for the enjoyment of which all the 
saints have been made partakers. Unceasingly set against the 
suggestions of the Devil your pious reasoning, balancing it 
as on a pair of scales, and continuing with your reasoning 
until the fall of the pan; especially whenever the evil thought 
arises and says: 'What is the advantage to you of living in 
this place? What profit is it to you to retire from the society 
of men? Do you not know that those appointed by God as 
bishops of the churches of God live customarily among men, 
and without intermission they hold the spiritual assemblies 
which greatly benefit those who attend? For there the diffi- 
cult sayings of the Proverbs are laid open, the teachings of 
the Apostles are unfolded, the thoughts contained in the 
Gospels expounded, discourses on God are heard, and there 
are held conferences of spiritual brothers, who by the mere 
sight of their person occasion great profit to those meeting 
them. But, you have made yourself a stranger to such good 
influences, and sit here becoming like the wild beasts. For, 
you see here a vast solitude, entire absence of social inter- 
course, a lack of instruction, an estrangement from brethren, 
and great idleness of spirit in regard to the precept of God.' 

When, therefore, the evil thought rises up and wishes to 

23 Le , by collecting alms 'for the poor' too diligently. 


break your determination by such numerous and specious 
pretexts of this kind, set against it, by pious reflections, your 
experience of the matter in hand, saying: 'You tell me that 
the things of the world are good. It is on that account that 
I have moved here, since I judge myself unworthy of the 
good things of this world. For, evils have been mingled with 
the good things of the world the evils preponderating. Once, 
indeed, when I was attending the spiritual assemblies, I met 
at length with great difficulty one brother who, it seemed, 
feared the Lord, but who was prevailed upon by the Devil. 
I heard from him clever speeches and fictitious tales told 
for the deception of those conversing with him. And, after 
him, I ran into many thieves, robbers, and oppressors. I saw 
the shameful sight of drunkards, and the blood of the op- 
pressed. I looked upon the beauty of women, which tortured 
my self-control. And, though I fled the act of fornication, I 
sullied my virginity through the thought of my heart, I also 
heard many words profitable to my soul, but in none of the 
teachers did I find virtue worthy of his words. And, after 
this, I heard innumerable tragedies, which insinuated them- 
selves into the mind by corrupt songs. Again, I heard the 
lyre sweetly sounding, the beat of the dancers' feet, the voice 
of the buffoons, much folly and ribald wit, and the outcry 
of an unspeakably large crowd. I saw the tears of the robbed, 
the distress of those led away by tyranny, the shrieks of the 
tortured. And I looked, and, lo! it was not a spiritual as- 
sembly, but a wind-swept and storm-tossed sea, striving to 
cover all alike with its waves. 24 

Tell me, O evil thought, demon both of transient sensual 

24 St Gregory of Nyssa describes a similar scene of the vices in Palestine 
in his letter on Pilgrimages. Because of the similarity of the descrip- 
tions and because St. Basil is known to have visited Palestine (cf. 
Lettei 223.2) Maran, op. cit., suggests that St. Basil is describing 
conditions in the Hoh Land. 


pleasures and of vanities, what profit is it to me to see and hear 
these things, since I have not strength to aid the wronged, 
nor am I allowed either to succor the weak or to correct 
the erring; nay, perhaps I am destined to destroy myself as 
well? For, as a little pool of clear water is blotted out by a 
great storm of wind and dust, so the good deeds which we 
are accustomed to do in life are covered over by the mass 
of evils. Indeed, the tragedies recounting pleasures and joys 
are like stakes set up by worldlings in their hearts, so that the 
purity of their psalmody may be dimmed. And the wailings 
and lamentations of men wronged by their fellow men are 
introduced to show the endurance of the poor. What profit, 
therefore, is this for me, or is it manifestly harmful to my 

'So, for this reason I flee to the mountains "as a sparrow 
out of the snare of the fowlers. 3 ' 25 For, I have been delivered 
as a sparrow. And I pass my life, O evil thought, in this soli- 
tude in which the Lord dwelt. Here is the oak of Mambre; 26 
here is the ladder leading to heaven and the companies of 
angels which Jacob saw; here is the desert In which the peo- 
ple, having been purified, were given the laws, and, thus 
entering the land of promise, saw God. Here is Mount Car- 
mel on which Elias, taking up his abode, was well-pleasing 
to God. Here is the plain into which Esdras withdrew and at 
the command of God produced his divinely inspired books. 
Here is the desert in which the blessed John ate locusts and 
preached penance to men. Here is the Mount of Olives 
.which Christ ascended to pray, teaching us how to pray. 
Here is Christ, the lover of solitude. For, He says : "Where 
two or three are gathered together for my sake, there am I 

25 Cf. Ps. 124.7. 

26 Cf Gen 13.18; 18.1. 


in the midst of them." 27 Here is the narrow and close way 
that leads to life. 28 Here are the teachers and prophets, 
"wandering in deserts, mountains, caves, and holes in the 
earth." 29 Here are apostles and evangelists, and monks liv- 
ing as citizens of the desert. 

"Now, I have willingly accepted these things that I may 
leceive the rewards which were promised to the martyrs of 
Christ and to all the other saints, and that I may truly say: 
"For the sake of the words of thy lips I have kept hard 
ways." 30 For, I know that Abraham, the beloved of God, 
obeyed the voice of God and settled in the solitude; that 
Isaac was oppressed; that Jacob, the patriarch, lived in a 
foreign land; the chaste Joseph was sold; the three stead- 
fast youths resisted fire; Daniel twice was thrown into the 
den of lions; the outspoken Jeremias was condemned to a 
dungeon of filth; Isaias, the beholder of hidden things, was 
sawed in pieces; Israel was taken captive; John denounced 
adultery and was beheaded; and the martyrs of Christ were 
destroyed. Indeed, why do I speak at length when even the 
Saviour Himself was crucified for us, in order that by His 
death He might make us live and might anoint and draw 
us all to endurance. To Him and to the Father and to the 
Holy Spirit I press on. I strive to be found a true son, having 
judged myself unworthy of the good things of the world, in- 
deed unworthy not on account of the world, but the world 
made unworthy on account of me. 5 

Therefore, considering these things within yourself, and 
zealously bringing them to fulfillment, as has been said to you, 
struggle until death for the sake of truth. For, even Christ 

27 Matt. 18.20. 

28 Cf. Matt. 7.14 

29 Heb. 11.38. 

30 Ps. 16.4. 

LETTERS 1 1 1 

became obedient unto death. 31 Moreover, the Apostle 32 also 

says: Take heed lest perhaps there be in any of you an 
evil heart that would turn away from the living God,' But 
exhort one another, each edifying the other, while it is still 
called today. For, 'today 3 means the whole time of our life. 
If you thus conduct your Jife, brother, you will not only save 
yourself, but will also gladden us and glorify God forever and 
ever. Amen. 

43. Admonition to the Young 1 

You who live a faithful solitary life and practice piety, 
observe and learn the way of life, according to the Gospel 
subjection of the body, lowliness of spirit, purity of thought, 
and control of anger. When pressed into service 2 for the 
Lord's sake, do still more; when defrauded, abstain from 
lawsuits; when hated, love; when persecuted, endure; when 
slandered, pray. Be dead to sin; be crucified for God; trans- 
fer all your care to the Lord, that you may procure that end 
where there are hosts of angels, assemblies of first-born, thrones 
of apostles, seats of prophets, sceptres of patriarchs, crowns 
of martyrs, and praises of righteous men. Be eager to be 
yourself numbered with these just ones in Jesus Christ, our 
Lord. To Him be glory forever. Amen. 

Si Cf Phil. 2.8. 

32 Cf. Heb. 3.12-13, 1 Thess. 511 A fusion of the two quotations, al- 
most verbatim according to the Greek text. 

1 Like the preceding with which it Is usually considered, this letter Is 
found in none ot the manuscripts of letters, but it appears in the Paris 
edition of letters of 1618, numbered 2, between Letters 42 and 44. It 
is found in some manuscripts of the homilies, and was probably taken 
from them. Cf. Bessieres, op. cit. 344. 

2 Cf. Matt. 5.41. 


44. To a Fallen Monk 1 

We do not say, 'Rejoice,' for there Is no rejoicing for the 
wicked. Nay, disbelief still holds me fast, nor does my mind 
conceive so heinous an offense and so great a crime as you 
have committed, if the facts are really as they now appear 
to all. I wonder how such great wisdom was swallowed up; 
how such great strictness of life became relaxed; whence 
came such blindness that enwrapped you; how, without tak- 
ing thought of anything at all, you wrought such terrible and 
such great destruction of souls. If this report is true, you 
have both consigned your own soul to the abyss and you 
have weakened the fervor of all who hear of this impiety. 
You have been a traitor to the faith; you have failed in the 
struggle for good. Therefore, I grieve for you. What priest, 
hearing the sad story, will not lament? What ecclesiastic does 
not strike his breast? What layman is not saddened? What 
ascetic does not mourn? Perchance, even the sun has been 
darkened at your fall and the powers of the heavens have 
been made to totter because of your destruction. Even the 
rocks, devoid of feeling, have wept at your madness; even 
your enemies have lamented over your lawlessness. 

O appalling hardness! O strange cruelty! You did not 
fear God, nor did you reverence men, nor feel shame before 
your friends, but you have suffered shipwreck of all things 
at once; of all alike you have stripped yourself. Therefore, 
again I grieve for you, wretched man ! You who were an- 
nouncing your ardor for the kingdom have fallen from the 

1 As in the case of Letter 42, no ancient manuscript of the correspond- 
ence of St Basil contains this letter. The family Ac alone recognizes 
it. It was first edited at Venice in 1535 with Letter 42. A few of the 
important manuscripts of homilies- contain it, but, as it is not in the 
general tradition of manuscripts of homilies in which Letters 45 and 
46 are found, it is considered as not even belonging to the homilies. 


kingdom. You who were inspiring all with a reverence for 
the doctrine did not have the fear of God before your eyes. 
You who preach holiness are found to be polluted. You who 
glory in poverty are caught stealing money. You who through 
your guidance point out the punishment of God have drawn 
down chastisement upon yourself. How shall I bewail you? 
How shall I grieve for you? How has the morning star, rising 
early, fallen and been shattered upon the earth? The two ears 
of everyone who hears of it will ring. How did the Nazarite 2 
who shone brighter than gold become darker than soot? 
The worthy son of Sion, 3 how did he become an unclean 
vessel? The remembrance of him whose knowledge of the 
Holy Scripture was talked about by all has today passed 
away with the echo of their voices. He who was quick of 
apprehension has perished quickly. He who had a manifold 
mind perpetrated a multifold offense. For those who were 
helped by your teaching have been injured by your destruc- 
tion. Those who lent their ears to your Instructions have closed 
their ears at your destruction. But I, lamenting and downcast, 
utterly despairing, eating ashes like bread and throwing sack- 
cloth over my wound I thus recount all your praises, or, 
rather, I draw up a funeral oration; I continue unconsolable 
and neglected, because consolation has been hidden from my 
eyes, and it is not possible for me to apply a salve nor oil 
nor a bandage, for my wound is painful. How shall I be 

If, then, any hope of salvation is still left to you, if any 
slight remembrance of God, if any desire for future rewards, 
if any fear of the punishments reserved for the unrepentant, 
come back quickly to sobriety; raise your eyes to the heavens; 
return to your senses; cease your wickedness; shake off the 

2 Cf. Lam. 4.7-8. 

3 Cf. Osee 8 8. 


drunkenness that has drenched you; stand up against Mm 
who has overthrown you. Have the strength to rise up from 
the earth. Remember the Good Shepherd, how He will pursue 
and deliver you. And if there be but 'two legs, or the tip 
of an ear/ 4 leap back from him who has wounded you. Re- 
member the compassion of God, how He heals with olive oil 
and wine. Do not despair of salvation. Recall the memory of 
what has been written, how he that falleth rises again^and 
he that is turned away turns again, 5 he that has been smitten 
is healed, he that is caught by wild beasts escapes, and he that 
confesses is not rejected. The Lord does not wish the death 
of the sinner, but that he return and live. 6 Be not contemptu- 
ous 7 as one who has fallen into the depths of sins. 

There is still time for patience, time for forbearance, time 
for healing, time for amendment. Have you slipped? Rise up. 
Have you sinned? Cease. Do not stand in the way of sinners, 8 
but turn aside; for then you will be saved when turning back 
you bewail your sins. In fact, from labors there is health; 
from sweat, salvation. So take heed, lest, in wishing to keep 
your contracts with others, you transgress your covenants with 
God which you confessed before many witnesses. 9 Do not, 
therefore, because of certain human considerations, hesitate 
to come to me. For, receiving my dead, I shall lament; I 
shall care for him; 'I shall weep bitterly for the devastation 
of the daughter of my people. 310 All welcome you; all will 
aid you in your sufferings. Do not lose heart; be mindful of 
the days of old. There is salvation; there is amendment. Have 
courage ; do not despair. There is no law which passes sentence 

4 Cf. Amos. 3 12. 

5 Cf. Jer. 8.4. 

6 Cf. Ezech. 18.32 

7 Cf. Prov. 18.3. 

8 Cf. Ps. I I. 

9 Cf. I Tim. 6.12. 
10 Cf, Isa 224. 


of death without pity, but grace, exceeding the chastisement, 
awaits the amendment. Not yet have the doors been closed; 
the Bridegroom listens; sin Is not the master. Again take up 
the struggle; do not draw back, but pity yourself and all of 
us in Jesus Christ, our Lord, to whom be glory and might, 
now and forever, for ages of ages. Amen. 

45. To a Fallen Monk 1 

A twofold fear has permeated the innermost depths of 
my mind because of the report concerning you. For, either 
a certain unsympathetic mood takes precedence, laying me 
open to a charge of harshness, or again, when I desire to pity 
and to be indulgent, your Infirmities change my friendly at- 
titude of mind. For this reason, even when I began to compose 
this letter of mine, I nerved my stiffening hand indeed by 
reasoning, but my face, which was downcast because of my 
distress over you, I was not able to alter; such great feeling 
of shame for you poured over me that immediately the line 
of my mouth fell as my lips parted with a sob. Alas! What 
shall I write? What shall I think, baffled as I am? 

If I recall your previous life of vanity, when wealth and 
petty mundane glory surrounded you, I shudder. At that time, 

1 The authenticity of Letters 45 and 46 has been questioned by a 
number of scholars. Yet, a careful study of the pros and cons, and es- 
pecially of the testimony of M. Bes&ieres, op. ciL 346ff., tends to 
support the opinion that they were written by St. Basil. However, they 
probably belong among the homilies rather than among the letters. Bes- 
si&res* opinion is based, in the first place, upon the fact that they have 
the almost unanimous tradition of the manuscripts of letters; secondly, 
they have a very solid tradition in the manuscripts of homilies; thirdly, 
Letter 46 was translated into Latin by Rufinus as a homily; and lastly, 
the expressions and quotations used in Letter 46 are similar to the 
oratorical works of St. Basil; while Letter 45 has many traits in com- 
mon with the Hexaemeron. Moreover, both have a Biblical coloring. 


a crowd of flatterers and the transient pleasure of luxury with 
its obvious danger and unrighteous gains followed you. In- 
deed, on the one hand, fear of the magistrates dissipated your 
concern about salvation, and, on the other, turmoils in public 
affairs disturbed your home and constant misfortune caused 
your mind to return to Him who was able to aid you. Little 
by little, then, you began to study how you might seek the 
Saviour, who permits fears for your benefit, but delivers and 
protects you who in your security mock Him. And you were 
preparing yourself for a change to a holy way of life, con- 
temptuously rejecting your very dangerous riches and deny- 
ing yourself the comfort of a home and the company of a wife. 
Wholly uplifted, passing as a stranger and a pilgrim by fields 
and by cities, you hastened to Jerusalem. There 1 lived with 
you and deemed you happy because of your ascetic labors, 
when, continuously fasting through the cycles of the weeks, 
you meditated upon God, shunning at the same time the 
companionship of men on pretext of turning to a new life; 
when, conforming yourself to the exercise of silence and 
solitude, you avoided the distractions of civil affairs. You 
chastised your body with rough sackcloth; you bound your 
loins tightly with a stiff belt, patiently enduring the constric- 
tion of your bones. Through your abstemiousness, your sides 
became hollow and flabby as far back as the spine, and 
you utterly refused the use of an alleviating bandage. You 
drew in your flanks like a gourd, forcing them to cleave to 
the region of the kidneys. Then, ridding your flesh of all fat, 
with lofty purpose you dried the channels of your body, and 
by fasting compressed your stomach itself, so that you caused 
your ribs, like the eaves of a house, to cast a shadow over 
the region of your abdomen. So, with your whole body 
shrunken, you confessed to God during the hours of the night, 


and with streams of tears you drenched and smoothed 
down your beard. 

But, why should I enumerate each separate detail? Re- 
member the many saints whose lips you have greeted with a 
kiss; the many holy persons you have embraced; the many 
men who clasped your hands as undefiled; the many servants 
of God who ran like hirelings to clasp your knees. 

And, after these things, what now? A slanderous report 
of adultery flies m all directions more swiftly than an arrow 
and wounds our ears, and with sharper point pierces our in- 
most heart. What sorcerer's cunning was so subtle as to 
bring you to such a destructive fall? What intricate nets of 
the Evil One entangled you, bringing to nought your steadfast 
practices of virtue? Where are the good reports of your labors? 
They are gone. For, must we not now distrust them? In 
consequence of the present evidence, how can we refuse to 
believe things up to now unseen, especially knowing you have 
bound by terrible oaths souls fleeing for refuge to God, when 
anything that is beyond 'yes' or W is scrupulously attributed 
to the Devil?" Therefore, you have at the same time become 
liable for a ruinous perjury, and by bringing into contempt 
the distinctive characteristic of asceticism you have trans- 
mitted the disgrace even to the Apostles and to our Lord 
Himself. You have dishonored the glory of purity; you have 
mocked the profession of chastity. We have become a tragedy 
of captives, and our lives are being dramatized for Jews 
and Greeks. 3 You have impaired the spirit of the monks; you 
have forced fear and timidity upon the more cautious souls, 
who still wonder at the power of the Devil. You have per- 

2 Cf. Matt. 5.37. , _ , _ 

3 I e we monks in the role of captives are held up for ridicule by Jews 
and pagans. St. Basil uses the term Greeks' for the adherents of the 
old pagan religion. 


verted the indifferent to an emulation of your licentiousness. 
As much as lies in you, you have destroyed the glory of Christ, 
who says: Take courage, I have overcome the world 34 and 
the ruler of it. You have mixed a cup of infamy for your 
fatherland. Truly you brought to accomplishment the words 
of the proverb: 'As a hart pierced to the liver. 30 

But, what now? The tower of strength has not fallen, 
brother; the remedies of conversion have not been mocked; 
the city of refuge has not been closed. Do not remain in the 
depth of evil; do not subject yourself to the slayer of men. 
The Lord knows how to raise up those who have been thrown 
down. Do not flee afar, but hasten to us. Take up again 
the labors of your youth and by renewed virtuous actions de- 
stroy the sensuality and sordidness which made you grovel 
in the mire. Look up to the last day, which is so near to our 
life. Realize how even now the sons of Jews and Greeks 
are being drawn to the service of God, and once and for all 
cease denying the Saviour of the world, lest that most ter- 
rible sentence overtake you: 'I do not know who you are.' 6 

46. To a Fallen Virgin 1 

Now is the time to utter aloud those words of the Prophet 
who said: 'Who will give water to my head, and a fountain 
of tears to my eyes, and I will weep for the slain of the 
daughter of my people?' 2 For, even if deep silence enfolds 

4 John 16.33. 

"> Cf. Prov 723. St. Basil gives the substance but not the exact words 
of the Septuagint. The Douay version is somewhat different. 

6 Cf. Luke 13.27. 

1 Cf. Letter 45 n. 1. 

2 Cf. Jer. 9.1. (Septuagint) , St. Basil omits the words, 'for this my 
people, da\ and night,* after 'weep/ 


them and they lie dispossessed once and for all of their sense 
by the horrible deed (for by the deadly blow they have been 
deprived already of the very awareness of their condition), 
still we must not tearlessly disregard so great a fall. For, if 
Jeremias judged those whose bodies were smitten in war 
worthy of innumerable laments, what should be said regard- 
ing so terrible a disaster to souls? 'Thy slain/ it Is said, are 
not slain by the sword, and thy dead are not dead in battle/ 3 
But, I bewail the sharp sting which causes real death, that is, 
grievous sin, and the fiery darts of the Evil One, barbarously 
burning soul and body alike. 

Surely, the laws of God would groan mightily at behold- 
ing such guilt upon earth, since they were ever forbidding 
and crying out of old, indeed: 'Thou shalt not covet thy 
neighbor's wife 5 ; 4 and, through the holy Gospels: 'Anyone 
who even looks with lust at a woman has already committed 
adultery with her in his heart.' 5 But, they now behold the 
Lord's bride herself, whose head is Christ, fearlessly commit- 
ting adultery, at which the very spirits of the saints would 
lament: Phinehas the zealous, because he can no longer take 
the lance in his hand and with physical punishment avenge 
the defilement; and John the Baptist, because he is not able 
to leave his heavenly abode as he left the desert and to hasten 
to rebuke the transgression, and, if he should need to endure 
any suffering, rather to lose his head than his freedom of 
speech. Now, if like the blessed Abel, 6 John himself, 'though 
he is dead, yet speaks' to us, even now he cries out and 
shouts more loudly than he did then concerning Herodias: 
'It is not lawful for thee to have her. 57 At any rate, even 

3 Cf. Isa. 22.2. 

4 Deut. 5.21. 

5 Cf. Matt. 5.28 (St. Basil quotes almost verbatim) 

6 Cf. Heb 11.4. 

7 Matt. 14.4. 


though the body oi John according to the law of nature has 
accepted the divine sentence, and his tongue is silent, yet 
'the word of God is not bound.' 8 For, if he, because the 
marriage of a fellow servant was set at naught, exercised his 
freedom of speech even to death, how would he feel when 
he beheld such insolence concerning the sacred bridal cham- 
ber of the Lord? 

But you have thrown off the yoke of that divine union; 
you have fled the undefiled bridal chamber of the true 
king, have shamefully fallen into that disgraceful and sac- 
rilegious seduction, and, since you may In no way escape 
this bitter charge, and as there is no means or method 
by which you may hide this horror, you rush recklessly on, 
Then, inasmuch as a sinner, on falling into the depths of sin, 
becomes thereafter contemptuous, you deny those covenants 
with your true Bridegroom, protesting that you neither are 
nor ever promised to be a virgin; you who both received and 
made show of many declarations of virginity. 

Recall your glorious profession which you made before 
God, the angels, and men. 9 Remember the august company, 
the holy chorus of virgins, the assembly of the Lord, and the 
Church of saints. Call to mind, also, your grandmother, old 
In Christ, but still young and strong in virtue, and your 
mother, vying with her in the Lord and striving by new and 
unusual toils to destroy former habits. Remember, also, your 
sister, who is likewise both imitating and aspiring to surpass 
them, and who by the advantage of her virginity is outstrip- 
ping the virtuous actions of her elders and is industriously 
summoning, both by word and by life, you her sister, as she 
thought, to a contest of like eagerness. Recall these, and also 
the angelic chorus singing with them to God, the spiritual 

8 2 Tim. 2.9. 

9 Cf. 1 Tim. 6J2. 


life in the flesh, and the heavenly life on earth. Remember 
your unperturbed days, your enlightened nights, your spiritual 
songs, the melodious chanting of psalms, the holy prayers, 
the pure and undefiled bed, the procession of virgins, the 
temperate table, and you yourself saying fervent prayers that 
your virginity be kept unstained. 

Where, now, is that dignified appearance, and where the 
well-ordered disposition, the simple clothing becoming to a 
virgin, the beautiful blush of modesty, and the seemly pal- 
lor which blooms through self-control and watchings, and 
has a radiance more charming than any fresh complexion? 
How often in your prayers to keep your virginity unspotted 
did you, perhaps, shed tears? And how many letters did you 
write to holy men, through which you asked them to pray 
earnestly for you, not in order that you might attain human 
marriage, much less this disgraceful corruption, but in order 
that you might not fall away from the Lord Jesus? And how 
often did you receive gifts from your Bridegroom? And why 
should I even mention the honors received through Him 
from His ministers? The companionship with virgins? The 
processions with them? The salutations from them? The 
praises of your virginity? The virginal blessings? 10 The letters 
written to you as a virgin? But, now, having received a little 
breath of 'the spirit of the air, which now works on the un- 
believers, 511 you have denied all those things; and that pre- 
cious and highly prized possession you have exchanged for a 
brief pleasure, which indeed satisfies 12 for a time, but later 
will be found more bitter than gall. 

In his grief over these things, who would not say: 'How 
is the faithful city, Sion, become a harlot?' 13 And how would 

10 The sacerdotal benedictions given to nuns by the priests. 

11 Cf Eph. 2.2. 

12 Literally, 'oils your throat. 

13 Cf. Isa. 1.21. 


not the Lord 14 Himself say to any one of those who are now 
walking about In the spirit of Jeremias: 'Hast thou seen what 
things the virgin of Israel hath done to me? I espoused her to 
myself in faith and in purity, in justice and judgment, and in 
mercy and in commiserations, as I promised to her through 
Osee, the prophet. But she has loved strangers; and while I, 
her husband, am living, she is called an adulteress, and does 
not to fear to be with another man. 5 And that, then, does the 
friend of the bride who gave her to her husband, the holy and 
blessed Paul, say, both that Paul of old and the Paul of to- 
day, under whom as mediator and teacher you left the pater- 
nal home and were united with the Lord? 15 Would not 
each in a state of intense grief over such an evil say : Tor the 
fear which I feared hath come upon me; and that which I 
was afraid of hath befallen me 5 ? 16 Tor I betrothed you to 
one spouse, that I might present you a chaste virgin to 
Christ' 17 and I feared always lest, as the serpent seduced 
Eve by his guile, so your minds may at some time be cor- 
rupted.' 18 On this account I always tried with innumerable 
holy diversions to restrain the tumult of your passions, and 
with numberless safeguards to watch over the bride of the 
Lord, and I always described the life of the unmarried, say- 

14 These quoted words are adapted from three sources: Jer. 18.13, 'There- 
fore thus saith the Lord: Ask among the nations: Who hath heard 
such horrible things, as the virgin of Israel hath done to excess?'; Osee 
2.19, 'And I will espouse thee to me forever; and I will espouse thee 
to me in justice, and judgment, and in mercy, and in commiserations'; 
Rom 7.3. 'Therefore while her husband is alive, she will be called an 
adulteress if she be with another man; but if her husband dies, she 
is set free from the law of the husband, so that she is not an adulter- 
ess if she has been with another man.' 

15 The two Pauls to whom St. Basil is referring are Paul, a priest who 
received her when she took her vows, and St. Paul. 

16 Job 3.25 (almost verbatim from the Septuagint) . The rest of the quo- 
tations in the assumed rebuke of Paul, the priest, are taken from St. 
Paul's Epistles. 

17 Cf. 2 Cor. 11.2. 

18 Cf. 2 Cor. 11.3. 


Ing that truly the 'unmarried woman alone thinks about the 
things of the Lord, that she may be holy In body and in 
spirit.' 19 I set forth the dignity of virginity, and, addressing 
you as 'the temple of God,' 20 I tried as it were to give wings 
to your eagerness, raising you up to Jesus; and I strove to 
aid you by fear of evil not to fall, saying: 'If anyone destroys 
the temple of God, him will God destroy. 521 Indeed, I also 
added the security that might come from my prayers if by 
some means 'your body and soul and spirit might be pre- 
served sound, blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus 
Christ. 522 But, in all these things I spent myself in vain for 
you, and the end of those sweet labors proved bitter to me; 
and I have to lament again over her in whom I should 
have rejoiced. For, lo! you were deceived by the serpent, 
more bitterly than Eve. Not only was 'your mind corrupted, 323 
but even your very body as well; and even that terrible 
horror, which I hesitate to mention, and yet am not able 
to pass over in silence (for it is as a burning and flaming fire 
in my bones, and I am completely weakened and am not able 
to endure), taking 'the members of Christ, you have made 
them members of a harlot. 324 

This alone among all evils is without comparison; this 
is a new act of shamelessness in life. 'Pass over,' the Lord 
says, 'to the isles of Cethim, and see; and send into Cedar, 
and consider diligently, ... if there hath been done any- 
thing like this, if a nation hath changed their gods, and 
indeed they are not gods.* 25 But, the virgin 'has changed her 
glory,' and her glory is in her shame. 'Heaven was amazed at 

19 Cf. I Cor. 7.34. 

20 Cf. 1 Cor. 3.16. 

21 1 Cor. 3.17. 

22 Cf. 1 Thess. 5.23. 

23 Cf. 2 Cor. 11.3. 

24 Cf. 1 Cor. 6.15. 

25 Cf. Jer. 2.1041. 


this/ and the earth 'shuddered more violently than ever 
before.' And now, too, the Lord says: 4 My virgin has done 
two evils; she has. forsaken me,' the true and holy Bride- 
groom of holy souls, and she has fled to an impious and law- 
less destroyer of soul and body alike. She departed from 
God her Saviour, and she 'yielded her members as slaves 
of uncleanness and iniquity,' 'and she forgot me, and^ went 
after her lover, 5 from whom she will receive no good. 26 

'It were better for him if a millstone were hung about his 
neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that anyone 
should cause the virgin of the Lord to sin.' 27 Was any surly 
slave so mad as to throw himself upon his master's bed? 
Or what robber was ever led on to such folly as to lay violent 
hands upon the very offerings made to God not lifeless 
vessels, but living bodies possessing an indwelling soul made 
to the image of God? Of whom since time began has it 
been heard that he dared in the midst of the city and at high 
noon to draw the figures of unclean swine upon the statue 
of the king? If anyone violates a human marriage, he dies 
without pity in the presence of two or three witnesses. How 
much worse punishments do you think he deserves who has 
trodden under foot the Son of God/ and has corrupted the 
virgin vowed to Him and has insulted the spirit of virginity? 28 
'But she was willing/ he [the corrupter] says; 'and I did not 
force her against her will' Why, that abandoned Egyptian 
mistress herself was madly in love with the fair Joseph, but 
the madness of the licentious woman did not overcome the 
virtue of the chaste man; not even when she laid violent 
hands upon him was he forced into sin. 'But this/ he says, 
'had been determined by that woman, and she was no longer 

20 A fusion and adaptation of Jer. 2-12-15, Rom. 6.19, and Osee 2.13 

(Septuagint) . 

27 Cf. Luke 17.2. 

28 Cf. Heb. 10.29. 


a virgin; and if I had not been willing, she would have 
been corrupted by another.' Tor indeed, 5 it is said, 'the 
Son of man must be betrayed, but woe to that man by whom 
He was betrayed 9 ; 29 and 'it must needs be that scandals 
come, but woe to that man through whom they come,' 30 

In addition to these things, 'Shall not he that falleth rise 
again? and he that is turned away, shall he not turn again? 331 
Why, then, is the virgin 'turned away with a stubborn re- 
volting,' even though she heard Christ, her Spouse, saying 
through Jeremias: 'And when she had committed all these 
fornications, I said: Return to me, and she did not return'? 32 
'Is there no balm in Galaad? or is there no physician there? 
Why, then, is not the wound of the daughter of my people 
closed?' 33 Indeed, many safeguards against the evil would 
you find in the divine Scripture, and many remedies which 
from destruction bring salvation: the mysteries of death and 
resurrection; the words of the terrible judgment and everlast- 
ing punishment; the doctrines of repentance and the for- 
giveness of sin; those innumerable examples of conversion; 
the drachma, the sheep, the son who spent his livelihood with 
harlots, was lost and found, was dead and alive again. 34 Let 
us use these safeguards against evil; through them, let us 
heal our soul. 

But, take thought of the last day (for, indeed, not you 
alone will live an eternal life), the distress, the suffocation, 
the hour of death, the instant sentence of God, the angels 
hastening on, the soul in the midst of these things terribly 
disturbed, bitterly scourged by a guilty conscience and pite- 

29 Cf. Mark 14.21. 

30 Cf. Matt. 18.7. 

31 Jer. 8.4. 

32 Jer. 3 7 (Septuaglnt) . The Douay version reads: 'done all these 
things/ instead of 'committed all these fornications.' 

33 Jer. 8.22. 

34 Cf. Luke 15. 


ously turning now to earthly things, and now to the inexora- 
ble necessity of that long life to come. Picture in your mind, 
I pray, the final end of human life, when the Son of God 
will come in His glory with His angels. For, He 'shall come 
and shall not keep silence, 535 when He comes to judge the 
living and the dead and to give to each according to his 
deed, when that trumpet sending forth a great and terrible 
call shall awaken all who through the ages have been sleeping. 
'And they who have done good shall come forth unto resur- 
rection of life; but they who have done evil unto resurrection 
of judgment.' 36 Recall Daniel's 37 divine vision, how he brings 
the judgment before our eyes. 'I beheld/ he says, 'till thrones 
were placed, and the Ancient of days sat; his garment was 
white as snow, and the hair of his head like clean wool . . . 5 38 
the wheels of it like a burning fire. A swift stream of fire issued 
forth from before him; thousands of thousands ministered 
to him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood 
before him; the judgment sat, and the books were opened/ 
revealing clearly in the hearing of all the angels and men 
the good things, the bad, the seen, the hidden, the actions, 
the words, the thoughts, all things at once. How must those 
who have lived wickedly be affected by these things? Where, 
then, will that soul hide itself, which is suddenly exposed, 
filled with shame s before the eyes of so many spectators? With 
what sort of body will it endure those countless and insup- 
portable scourgings, where there is unquenchable fire, and 
the worm 39 punishes without end, the dark and horrible 
abyss of Hades, the bitter wailings, violent screaming, weep- 
ing and gnashing of teeth, and horrors which have no end? 

35 Cf. Ps. 49.3. 

36 John 5.29. 

37 Dan. 7.9-10. 

38 St. Basil omits 'his throne like flames of fire. 

39 Cf. Mark 9.44, 46, 48. 


Nor is there after death any relief from these woes, nor any 
method or device of escaping the bitter punishments. 

It is possible now to avoid them. While we are able, let 
us lift up ourselves from our fall, let us not despair of our 
salvation, if only we depart from our sins. Jesus Christ came 
into the world to save sinners. 'Come, let us adore and fall 
down and weep before Him. 540 The Word calling us to 
repentance cries out and exclaims: 'Come to Me, all you 
who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. 341 
Therefore, there is a way of salvation, if only we will it. 
Death prevailing has swallowed us up, but be assured that 
God has again wiped away every tear from the face of all 
who repent. 42 The Lord is faithful in all His words. 543 He 
does not deceive when He says: c lf your sins be as scarlet, 
they shall be made as white as snow; and if they be red as 
crimson, they shall be white as wool. 344 The great Physician 
of souls is ready to cure your suffering; He is the ready lib- 
erator, not of you alone, but of all those enslaved by sin. His 
words, pronounced by that sweet and saving mouth, are: 
'It is not the healthy who need a physician, but they who 
are sick. . . . For I have come to call sinners to repentance, 
'not the just. 345 What, therefore, is your excuse, or that of any 
other person, since He utters these words? The Lord wishes 
to free you from the pain of the wound, and to show you 
light after darkness. The Good Shepherd, leaving those that 
have not strayed, seeks you. If you will surrender yourself, 
He will not hold back, nor will He in His kindness disdain 
to lift you up on His own shoulders, rejoicing that He has 
found His sheep that was lost. 

40 CL Ps. 95 6. 

41 Matt. 11.28. 

42 CL Isa. 25.8 (Septuagint) . The Douay version differs somewhat in 

43 Cf. Ps. 145.17. 

44 Isa. 1.18. 

45 Matt. 9.12-13. 


The Father stands and awaits your return from your 
wandering. Only turn to Him and, while you are still afar 
off. He will run and fall upon your neck, and with loving em- 
braces will enfold you, now cleansed by your repentance. And 
He will put the best robe on your soul which has stripped 
off the old man with his works; and He will put a ring 
on your hands, washed of the blood of death; and He will 
put shoes on your feet, since they have turned from the way 
of evil to the course of the gospel of peace. And He will an- 
nounce a day of joy and gladness for His own, both angels 
and men, and will celebrate in every way your salvation. 
He says: 'Amen I say to you that there is joy in heaven be- 
fore God over one sinner who repents.' 46 And if any one of 
those who seem to stand shall bring a charge that you have 
been quickly received, the good Father Himself will answer 
for you and say : 'But it is fit that we should make merry and 
be glad, for this My daughter was dead and is come to life 
again; she was lost and is found. 547 

47. To Gregory, His Companion 1 

'Who will give me wings like a dove?' 2 Or how can my 
old age be renewed, so that I may be able to visit your 

46 Cf. Luke 15.7. 

47 Cf. Luke 15 32. 

i Letters 47-291 inclusive form the second main division of St. Basil's 
letters according to the Benedictine arrangement. They are the letters 
written during his episcopate. The present letter was written at the 
death of Eusebius, Archbishop of Caesarea, in 370, and St. Basil, who 
had really directed the affairs of the see for some years, was the ablest 
of all possible candidates. St. Basil himself, understanding the dif- 
ficulties of the time and realizing that he was the most fit to deal with 
the situation, was eager for the office. He had summoned St. Gregory, 
his friend, to Caesarea on the plea of his own illness, but St. Gregory 



Charity, 1 there to satisfy the longing which I have of seeing 
you and to tell you the sorrows of my soul, and thus through 
you to find some solace for my afflictions? For, at the death 
of the blessed Bishop Eusebius 4 we were seized with no little 
fear that, perchance, those who are ever lying in wait for 
the church of our metropolis and desiring to fill it with the 
tares of heresy would grasp the opportunity of rooting out 
of the souls of men by their wicked teachings the piety plant- 
ed with much trouble, and would destroy its unity, as they 
have done in many churches. Then, when letters also came 
to us from the clergy, urging us not to be negligent at such 
a time, taking thought, I recalled your charity and upright 
faith, and the zeal which you ever had for the churches of God. 
Therefore, I have sent Eustathius, rny beloved 5 fellow dea- 
con, to appeal to your Grace and to entreat you to add this 
imminent task to all your former labors for the churches. 
And this not only to comfort my old age by a conference with 
you but to restore the widely proclaimed piety of the true 
Church by helping us (if, indeed, we should be considered 
worthy to share with you in the good work) to give it a 

refused to come The Benedictine editors and Tiliemont, Memoires 
pour servir a Vlustone ecclesiastique des six premiers siecles 9 (Fans 
1643-1712) 658, assign the letter to the elder Gregory, writing through 
the younger Gregory to Eusebius of Samosata One reason for this is 
that St. Basil was not an old man and both the writer and the addressee 
of this letter were old. Again, the elder Gregory was instrumental In 
securing St. Basil's election. He had Eusebius come from Samosata to 
make the third bishop necessary for the consecration, while he himself 
had to be carried to the church from his bed of sickness. This letter 
also appears as Letter 42 among those of Gregory of Nazianzus. 

2 Ps. 55.6. 

3 Agdpena. title of address used by St. Basil in speaking to bishops. 

4 On the death of Dianius in 362, Eusebius had been elected Bishop of 
Caesarea through the counsels and influence of the elder Gregory. It 
was Eusebius who had ordained St. Basil to the presbyterate, and at 
first chafed because of the activity and success of his more able sub- 

5 Agapetos a title of distinction used by St Basil for both clergymen 
and laymen. 


pastor according to the Lord's will, one who is able to guide 

His people aright. For, we have before our eyes a man whom 
you also know well. If we should be considered worthy to 
secure him, I know that we shall appear before God with 
much confidence, and shall bestow the greatest benefit on the 
people who have called upon us. But, I entreat you once 
again and often no longer to hesitate but to visit us, starting 
before the hardships of the winter season begin. 

48. To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 1 

It was with great difficulty that we were able to secure a 
carrier for this letter to your Reverence. For, the people of 
our country cringe so beneath the winter that they do not 
have the least courage to venture out of their houses. In 
fact, we have been covered with such a heavy snowfall that 
for two months we have been in hiding, buried with the 
very houses. Assuredly, then, understanding both our Cap- 
padocian 2 timidity and natural sluggishness, you will pardon 
us for not writing sooner and informing your Honor of the 
affairs at Antioch. It is, no doubt, to no purpose to make 
these matters known to you at this late hour, since you have 
probably learned of them long ago. However, considering 
it no trouble to tell you even things known to you, we have 
sent the letter in care of our reader. So much for these matters. 

Constantinople has for a long time had Demophilus, 3 as 
they themselves will tell you, and as others also assuredly have 

1 This letter was written jn the spring of 371. 

wfrh f h a PP? dodans ^ ere . notorious for their bad character. Together 
^ Cllkians > the y accounted the 'three worst 

Arians in 37 fil1 ** see 


left vacant by the death of Eudoxius. 


announced to your Holiness. Indeed, a certain pretense of 
true faith and piety on Ms part is commonly reported by 
those coming from there, all with the same account. As a 
result, even the parts of the city which were at variance have 
united, and some of the neighboring bishops have accepted 
the union. Furthermore, our own people have shown them- 
selves no better than we had expected of them. For, when 
they arrived, just in the wake of your departure, they said 
and did many distressing things, and finally departed, con- 
firming their schism. 4 At all events, it is evident to no one 
except God whether the condition will improve and whether 
they will cease their evil-doing. Such, then, is the present 

The rest of the Church is, by the grace of God, enjoying 
tranquillity, and is likewise praying to see you with us again 
in the spring, and to be reinvigorated by your sound teaching. 
As for me, my physical health is no better than usual. 

49. To Arcadius, the Bishop 1 

I gave thanks to the holy God on reading your Reverence's 2 
letter; and I pray both that I may be worthy of the hope 
which you entertain of us, and that you may obtain the per- 
fect reward for the honor which you bestow on us in the name 
of our Lord Jesus Christ. We were delighted beyond measure 
that, upon yourself assuming a charge becoming to a Chris- 
tian, you had erected a home for the glory of the name of 
Christ, truly loving, as it is written, 'the beauty of the house 

4 Letters 98, 141, and 282 also tell of the troubles St. Basil encountered 
after he became bishop. 

1 This letter was written shortly after St. Basil's elevation to the epis- 

2 Eulabeias a title of address used by St. Basil for clergymen only. 


of the Lord. 3 Doing so, you have provided for yourself the 
heavenly mansion which is prepared in the place of rest for 

those who love the name of the Lord. If we are able to find 
relics of martyrs anywhere, we beg that we also may con- 
tribute to your undertaking. For, if c the just shall be in ever- 
lasting remembrance,' 4 surely we shall be sharers of the 
good remembrance which will be given to you by the saint. 

50. To Bishop Innocent 1 

Who Is more fit than your Reverence in the Lord to in- 
spire courage in the cowardly and arouse the sluggish. You 
have also manifested your excellence in all perfections, in 
being willing to descend to our Lowliness, proving yourself 
a true disciple of Him who said: 'But I am in your midst,* 
not as he who reclines at table but 'as he who serves.' 2 For, 
you yourself deigned to serve to us your spiritual joy, to lift 
up our souls by your esteemed letter, and to throw around 
us, like infant children, as it were, the arms of your greatness. 

Therefore, pray, we beg of your noble soul, that we may 
be worthy to be aided by your great strength, receiving voice 

3 Cf . Ps. 26 8. 

4 Ps. 112.6. 

1 St. Basil's authorship of Letters 50 and 81 is denied by J. Wittig, 
'Studien zur Geschichte des Papstes Innocenz I und der Papstwahlen 
des 5 Jahrhunderts/ TheoL Quartalschrift 84 (1902) 388-439. He offers 
very convincing evidence that both are letters of St. John Chrysostom 
to Pope Innocent. The Benedictine editors consider Letter 50 the work 
of St. Basil and reject as an error the addition 'of Rome' to the title 
found in many editions. They support their contention with the state- 
ment that Damasus was Bishop of Rome at the time of St. Basil, and 
they assign the letter to the beginning of his episcopate. 

2 Luke 22.27. 


and wisdom to venture to answer you who are led by the Holy 
Spirit. And, since we hear that you are His friend and true 
glorifier, we avow our deep thankfulness for your firm and 
unwavering love for God. In our prayers we beg of the Lord 
that our place may be with the true adorers, among whom 
assuredly your Perfection stands, as does that great and 
true bishop 3 who fills all the world with admiration for 

57. To Bishop Bosporius 1 

How deeply, think you, was my soul pained on hearing 
of that slander poured out against me by some of those who 
do not fear the Judge who will 'destroy all that speak a 
lie 5 ? 2 As a result, your affectionate words kept rne sleepless 
nearly the whole night, so firmly had grief fastened upon 
my inmost heart. For, truly, according to Solomon, 'slander 
humbles a man 5 ; 3 and no one is so insensible to pain as not, 
when made a prey of lying mouths, to suffer in soul and be 
bowed down to the earth. But, I must indeed bear up under 
all things, endure all things, leaving vengeance to the Lord, 
who will not disregard us, since it is said : "He that oppresseth 
the poor, upbraideth his Maker. 54 Nevertheless, those who 
have framed this new tale of blasphemy against us seem 

3 The identity of this bishop is unknown. 

1 Bosporius was Bishop of Colonia In Cappadocia Secunda and St. Basil's 
close friend. This letter is a defense against a slanderous report that 
St Basil had anathematized Bishop Dianius, his friend, \vho had sub- 
scribed to the Creed of Ariminum. It was written in 370. 

2 Ps. 5.7, 

3 Cf. Eccle. 7 8. 

4 Prov, 14.31. 


utterly to disbelieve the Lord, who has declared that on the 
day of judgment we shall give an account of even every idle 
word. 5 

But, tell me, did I anathematize the most blessed 6 Dianius? 
This is the charge against us. Where, or when? In whose 
presence? On what pretext? By mere spoken words, or in 
writing? Following the example of others, or as the originator 
and author of the daring act? Oh, the shamelessness of those 
who speak so glibly of every matter! Oh, the contempt for 
the judgments of God! Unless to their fabrication they add 
this monstrosity, also, that I was some time so demented that 
I did not know what I was saying. For, as long as I was 
possessed of my senses, I know that I did no such thing, nor 
did I wish in the first place so to do. But, on the contrary, 
I am conscious of this, that from my earliest years I grew 
up with a great love for him. I used to look with admiration 
upon the man, so majestic to behold, so magnificent, and 
possessed of such great priestly dignity of form. And when I 
reached the age of reason, then I recognized the virtues of his 
soul. And I rejoiced in his company, perceiving the simplicity, 
the nobility, and the generosity of his disposition, and all 
the other virtues characteristic of the man his meekness 
of spirit, his magnanimity combined with gentleness, his pro- 
priety, his mildness of temper, his cheerfulness and affability 
seasoned with dignity. Therefore, I counted him among the 
most eminent in virtue. 

However, toward the end of his life (for I will not con- 
ceal the truth), I, together with many in our native land 
who fear the Lord, suffered intolerable grief on his account 
because he had subscribed to the creed introduced from Con- 

5 Cf. Matt. 12.36. 

6 Makariotaton a title of distinction used by St. Basil only for bishops. 


stantinopie by George and his followers. 1 Then, when he 
had already fallen into his last illness, being, through his 
mildness of disposition and his spirit of fairness, so willing in 
his paternal affection to completely satisfy all, he summoned 
us. He said that, with the Lord as his witness, in* the simplic- 
ity of his heart he had agreed to the document from Con- 
stantinople, but he had accepted nothing in rejection of the 
faith set forth by the holy Fathers at Nicaea, nor was he 
at heart otherwise than he had been when he had first re- 
ceived it. On the contrary, he even prayed that he might not 
be separated from the lot of those three hundred and eighteen 
blessed bishops who had announced the sacred doctrine to 
the world. Consequently, we, at this assurance, blotting out 
all doubt from our hearts, as you yourself know, entered in 
communion with him and ceased grieving. 

Such, indeed, were our relations with the man. If any- 
one should say that he is aware of any wicked slander against 
him on our part, let him not babble furtively like a slave, but 
openly confront and fearlessly refute us. 

7 The Homoean Creed of Anminum revised at Nica and accepted in 360 
at the Acacian Synod of Constantinople. 'George Is, presumably, the 
George, Bishop of Laodicea, who at Seleucia opposed the Acacians, but 
who appears afterwards to have become reconciled to that party, and 
to have joined them in persecuting the Catholics of Constantinople' 
Jackson. Cf. Letter 251. 

52. To the Canonesses 1 
Our brother Bosporius, 2 a bishop dearly beloved of God, 

1 Canonesses were women of the early Church who lived a life of piety 
and followed a definite rule of life'. They differed from nuns in that 
they did not take the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The 
date of this letter is 370, in the beginning of St. Basil's episcopate. 

2 Cf. Letter 51. 


by his more favorable report concerning your piety, gave us 
as much joy as the distressing rumor which resounded about 
our ears had previously pained us. For, he said, by the grace 
of God, ail those rumors spread abroad were fabrications of 
men not accurately understanding the truth about you. But, 
he adds that he found among you such slanders against us, 
indeed, as might be spoken by those who do not expect, on 
the day of His just retribution, to render an account to the 
Judge even of every idle word. 3 Therefore, I gave thanks 
to the Lord both because I myself was set right concerning 
my damaging opinion of you which, as it seems, I had ac- 
cepted from the slanders of men, and also because I heard 
that you, upon receiving the favorable affirmation of our 
brother, had laid aside your false suspicions of us. 

In those matters in which the latter presented to you his 
own opinion he, at the same time, fully expressed ours. For, 
we are both of one mind concerning the faith, both being 
heirs of the same Fathers, who previously at Nicaea pro- 
claimed publicly the great doctrine of our religion. Although 
this doctrine is entirely free from misrepresentation in other 
respects, yet there are certain persons who never have ac- 
cepted the w r ord 'consubstantial, 3 which had been ill received 
by some. These might be justly blamed and yet again be 
considered worthy of pardon. For, to refuse to follow the 
Fathers and to refuse to regard their word as of greater 
authority than their own opinion is an arrogance deserving 
of reproach. On the other hand, to hold in suspicion that 
word which is discredited by others, perhaps, seems to free 
them somewhat from the charge. For, in truth, those who 
assembled in the case of Paul of Samosata 4 complained of 

3 Cf. Matt. 12.36. 

4 The two Antiochene synods of A.D. 264 and 269. To enforce their 
decisions against Paul of Samosata, recourse was had to the pagan 


the word on the ground that it was not clear. Now, they 
said that the word 'consubstantiaT set before the mind an 
idea both of substance and derivatives in such a manner 
that the substance, when divided into parts, gives to the 
parts into which it was divided the name of 'consubstantial. 5 
This idea has some ground in the case of bronze and the 
money made from it, but in reference to God the Father 
and God the Son, substance is not considered anterior, nor 
is it considered as superimposed on both. In fact, to think 
or to say this is something more than impiety. For, what 
could be anterior to the Unbegotten? And by this blas- 
phemy even the faith in the Father and the Son is destroyed, 
since objects subsisting from one and the same thing are 
related as brothers to each other. 5 

And, since at that time some were saying that the Son 
was brought from non-existence into existence, the word 
'consubstantial' was added to destroy this irreverence. For, 
the union of the Son with the Father is without time and 
without interruption. Moreover, the preceding words prove 
that this was the thought of these men. For, after they had 
said light from light, and that the Son was begotten and 
not made from the substance of the Father, they brought 
in 'consubstantial 5 over and above these attributes, indicat- 
ing that whatever meaning of light is attributed to the 
Father, the same will also be appropriate for the Son. For, 
true light will show no variation from true light according 
to the very conception of light. Therefore, since the Father 
is light without beginning, and the Son light begotten, but 
one is light and the other is light, they rightly say *consub- 
stantiaF in order that they may show the equal dignity of 
their nature. For, cognate objects are not said to be cons"ub~ 

5 A reductio ad absurdum. The doctrine of 'Likeness of Substance" was 
devised to get rid of this very notion. 


stantial, as some assume. But, when the cause and that which 
has its existence from the cause are of the same nature, they 
are said to be consubstantiai. 

The same word also corrects the error of Sabeilius. 6 For, 
it destroys the identity of person [hypostasis] and introduces 
a perfect idea of the persons. Now, nothing is in itself consub- 
stantiai with itself, but one thing is consubstantiai with an- 
other. Hence, the expression is a good and legitimate one, 
since it defines the individuality of the persons and shows 
the invariability of the nature. 

But, when we learn that the Son is from the substance 
of the Father, begotten and not made, let us not fall into 
material ideas of the process. For, the substance was not 
separated from the Father and formed into the Son; nor 
did it engender by fluxion, nor by the putting forth of shoots, 7 
as plants produce their fruits, but the manner of the divine 
generation is incapable of expression and of comprehension 
by human reason. Yet, truly, it is characteristic of a lowly 
and carnal mind to compare the eternal with the perishable 
and transient, and to think that, as corporeal things beget, 
so God does in like manner. In reference to religion, we 
ought to take our arguments from the contraries, saying 
that, since the mortal concerns are thus, the immortal Being 
is not thus. Assuredly, we must not deny the divine genera- 
tion, nor sully our minds with carnal thoughts. 

Moreover, the Holy Spirit is numbered with the Father 
and the Son, because He also is above the created object, 
and His rank is as we have learned it in the Gospel from 
our Lord, who said: 'Go, baptizing in the name of the Father, 

6 Cf. Letter 9 n. 5. 

7 Cf. Luke 21.30. 


and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.' 8 But, the one who 
places Him before the Son, or says that He is older than 
the Father, opposes God's command and is a stranger to 
sound faith, since he does not preserve the form of the 
Doxology which he received, but invents for himself a novel- 
ty in order to be pleasing to men. Now, if He [the Spirit] 
is anterior to God, He is not from God. For, it is written: 
'But the Spirit is of God. 59 And, if He is from God, how is 
He older than He from whom He is? And what madness 
also is it, since the Unbegotten is one, to say that something 
else is anterior to the Unbegotten! Moreover, He is not be- 
fore the Only-begotten, 10 for there is no intervening space 
between the Son and the Father. And, if He is not from God, 
but is through Christ, He does not exist at all. Therefore, 
the innovation about the rank [of the Holy Spirit] contains 
a rejection of His very existence and is a denial of the whole 
faith. It is equally impious to reduce Him to the level of a 
creature, or to place Him above either the Son or the Father 
whether according to time or to rank. 

These, indeed, are the subjects about which I heard that 
your Reverences were inquiring, and, if the Lord should 
grant that we meet with each other, perhaps we may say 
something more on these points. We ourselves may also re- 
ceive some certainty from you on matters about which we 
are inquiring. 

8 Cf. Matt. 28J9. 

9 Cf. 1 Cor. 2.12. 

10 Cf. Letter 38, where St. Basil argues this point. 


53. To the Suffragan Bishops 1 

The disgracefulness of this hitherto-considered-incredible 
matter about which I am writing, and which consequently 
has become the subject of suspicion and common conversa- 
tion, has filled my soul with grief. Therefore, let him who 
is conscious of guilt receive my words on this subject as a 
remedy, anyone who is not guilty, as a precaution; and any- 
one who is indifferent I pray that such may not be found 
among you as a solemn protest. 

What is it that I mean? There is a rumor that some of 
you receive money from those you ordain, covering this over 
with the name of piety, 2 thus making the fault worse. For, 
if anyone does evil under the pretense of good, he is deserv- 
ing of a twofold punishment, because he not only does evil, 
but also uses the good as an accomplice, so to say, for com- 
mitting the sin. If this be so, it must not be done in the 
future, but must be corrected. For, it is necessary to say to 
him who receives the money what the Apostles said to the 
man who wished to pay in order to buy a participation in 
the Holy Spirit: 'Thy money go to destruction with thee. 53 
In fact, he who through ignorance wishes to buy is less guilty 
than he who sells the gift of God, making it a business trans- 
action. And, if you sell what you have received as a gift, 
you will be deprived of its grace, as if you had been sold 

1 The suffragan bishops were a grade of the clergy between bishops and 
priests. The Benedictine editors say that, since suffragan bishops do 
not have the power of ordination, the letter is addressed to the bishops 
subject to St. Basil. Although the authenticity of this letter has been 
questioned by Schafer, op. cit. 5ff, it is not lacking in the earliest 
manuscripts of the letters. It was written in the beginning of his 

2 I.e., piety on the part of the contributor. 

3 Acts 8.20. 



to Satan. Furthermore, you are introducing into the Church, 
where we have been entrusted with the Body and Blood of 
Christ, the bartering of material for spiritual things. There- 
fore, this must not be done. This, I say, is the artifice. They 
think they do not sin because the money is received not be- 
fore, but after, the ordination. But, any receiving, whenso- 
ever it may be, is receiving. 

Now, I urge, forsake this way to revenue, or rather, this 
road leading to hell, and do not, by defiling your hands with 
such gains, make yourselves unworthy of celebrating the 
sacred mysteries. But, pardon me; at first I speak as one not 
believing, and then I threaten as one persuaded. If after this 
my letter anyone shall do any such thing, he shall withdraw 
from the altars in this diocese and seek a place where he 
may be able to buy and sell again the gift of God. For we 
and the churches of God do not have such a custom. 4 

After adding one more statement, I shall stop. This prac- 
tice is born of avarice. And avarice is the root of all evils, 
and is called idolatry. 5 Do not, therefore, for the sake of a 
little money, honor idols above Christ. And again, do not 
imitate Judas, handing over for gain a second time Him who 
was once crucified for us. For, both the lands and the hands 
of those who receive these fruits will be called Haceldama. 6 

4 Cf. 1 Cor. 11.16. 

5 Cf. Col. 3.5. 

6 Cf. Acts 1.18-19. 


54. To the Suffragan Bishops 1 

It grieves me exceedingly that the canons of the Fathers 
have now fallen into disuse, and that all exact observance 
has been banished froze the churches. I fear that, since this 
indifference is steadily growing, the affairs of the Church 
will sink gradually into utter ruin. The practice formerly 
observed in the churches of God was to admit subdeacons 2 
for the service of the Church only after a most thorough 
investigation. Their whole manner of life was closely inquired 
Into, whether or not they were scoffers, or drunkards, or 
quarrelsome, or if they were moderating their youthful spirits 
so as to be able to attain 'the holiness without which no man 
will see the Lord. 33 This scrutiny was made by the presbyters 
and the deacons who lived with them, and was in turn re- 
ported to the suffragan bishops, who, after receiving the 
votes of those who were really witnesses and notifying the 

1 The authenticity of this letter assigned to one of the early years of 
St. Basil's episcopate has been questioned by Schafer, op, cit. 5ff. It 
contains instructions for admission to ordination, and claims that many 
have been presenting themselves as candidates to escape conscription. 
But, in St. Basil's time the clergy were not exempt from conscription, 
Schafer claims; moreover, the word 'epmemesis* is used for a period 
of time only in a later age, Bessieres, however, does not find it lacking 
in any of the earliest manuscripts of St. Basil's letters. 

2 The Greek Church acknowledges the following orders: bishops, priests, 
deacons, subdeacons, readers, acolytes, exorcists, and porters. Of these, 
the priesthood, including bishops, and the diaconate alone are regarded 
as major orders. This seems to have been true at least from the time of 
the Synod of Laodicea (about the middle of the fourth century) . In 
the Latin Church, the priesthood, including the bishops, the diaconate, 
and subdiaconate are the major or 'sacred orders," so called because 
they have immediate reference to what is consecrated. It is interesting 
to note that St. Basil in this letter considers the subdiaconate as one of 
the sacred orders. The earliest historical mention of the subdiaconate 
seems to be in the letter of Pope Cornelius (255) to Fabms of Antioch, 
in which he states that there are among the Roman clergy forty-six 
priests, seven deacons, and seven subdeacons. 

3 Heb. 12 14. 



bishop, then enrolled the subdeacons as members of the 
clergy. 4 

But, now, In the first place, you, disregarding us and not 
deigning to notify us, have yourselves assumed all authority. 
In the next place, becoming careless in the matter, you have 
permitted presbyters and deacons, acting through motives 
of affection due either to kinship or to some other friendly 
relationship, to introduce without due examination any un- 
worthy men they wished into the Church. Therefore, many 
subdeacons have been numbered in each village, but not 
one worthy of the service of the altar, 5 as you yourselves 
testify, since you are at a loss for men in the elections. 

Since, then, I see that the matter is already becoming an 
incurable condition, especially at this time when very many, 
in fear of induction into the army, are forcing their way into 
the subdiaconate, I am compelled to revive again the canons 
of the Fathers. Moreover, I enjoin upon you to send me 
the registration of the subdeacons of each village, and to 
say by whom each has been introduced and what manner 
of life he is leading. And you yourselves also keep the reg- 
istration in your own possession, so that you may compare 
your records with those preserved by us, and also so that it 
may not be possible for anyone illegally to enroll himself 
whenever he wishes. Of course, if some were brought in by 
presbyters after the first year of the indiction, 6 these fall back 
among the laity. And make the examination of these men 
over again, and if they are indeed worthy, let them be ad- 
mitted by your vote. Purge the Church yet more, driving 
out of it the unworthy. In the future, examine and admit, 

4 Cf. note 2. For testing of candidates, cf. St. Cyprian, Letter 68. 

5 I.e., few, if any, of the subdeacons are worthy of being raised to the 
diaconate or priesthood. 

6 The indictions were conventional periods of fifteen years, the first of 
which began in the reign of Constant ine the Great. 


Indeed, the deserving, but do not enroll them before you 
have reported to us; or else, realize that he who has been 
admitted to the subdiaconate without our consent will still 
be a layman. 

55. To Paregoric, a Presbyter 1 

I read your letter with all patience, and I am amazed that, 
although you could have defended yourself before us briefly 
and easily by your actions, you prefer to persist in the situ- 
ation causing the charges against you, and attempt to cure 
the incurable by long speeches. We are neither the first nor 
the only ones, Paregorius, who decreed that women should 
not live with men. Why, read the canon published by our 
holy Fathers in the Synod of Nicaea which clearly forbids 
the introduction of women into the household. 2 The honor 
of celibacy lies in this namely, in the separation from com- 
panionship with women. But, if anyone professing celibacy 
in name conducts himself as those who are married, he is 
evidently seeking the honor of virginity in name but is not 
abstaining from unbecoming indulgence. 

Therefore, you ought, in proportion as you say that you 
are free from all carnal passion, so much the more readily 
to yield to our demand. For, neither do I believe that a 

1 This letter, like the two preceding, Is assigned to the early period of 
St. Basil's episcopate, and, like them, its authenticity has been called 
Into question by Schafer, op. at. However, it, too, is supported by the 
manuscript tradition. 

2 Syneisaktoe women admitted to the homes of priests to look after the 
household duties. Scandals naturally arose therefrom, and prohibitive 
measures were passed at various councils, the earliest at the Council of 
Elvira in 305. The Canon (III) of Nicaea, to which St. Basil refers, 
only allowed the introduction of a mother, a sister, or an aunt, if their 
character was above suspicion. 


seventy-year-old man lives with a woman for the sake of 
passion, nor have we made this decision on the ground that 
some abominable act has been committed, but because we 
have been taught by the Apostle that we 'should not put a 
stumbling-block or a hindrance in our brother's way. 53 Yet, 
we know that an act honorably performed by some is to others 
an occasion of sin. For this reason, following the command 
of the holy Fathers, we have ordered you to separate from 
the woman. 

Why, then, do you make charges against the suffragan 
bishop and recall Ms former enmity? And why do you censure 
us as having ears ready to believe slanders? Why do you not 
rather blame yourself for not consenting to give up the com- 
panionship of the woman? Put her out of your house, there- 
fore, and settle her in a monastery. Let her be with virgins, 
and you be served by men, in order that the name of God 
may not be reviled on your account. Until you do this, the 
innumerable excuses which you write in your letters will be 
of no avail, but you will die suspended, and you will give 
the Lord a reason for your idleness. And if you dare, with- 
out correcting yourself, to cling to your priestly duties, you 
will be anathema to all the people, and they who receive you 
will be excommunicated throughout the whole Church. 

56. To Pergamius 1 

I am naturally forgetful, and the multiplicity of business 
affairs which has fallen to my lot is augmenting my natural 

5 Rom. 14.13 (Septuagint) . 

1 Pergamius seems to have been a lay person of Importance, but nothing 
is definitely known about him. This letter was written at the beginning 
of St. Basil's episcopate. 


weakness. Therefore, even though I do not remember that 
I have received a letter from your Nobility, 1 am persuaded 
that you sent us one, for surely you would not tell us a false- 
hood. Yet, that I have not answered is not my fault, but his 
who did not demand an answer. Now, however, this letter is 
going to you, not only making a complete apology for the 
past, but also offering an opportunity for a second salutation. 
Therefore, when you write to us, do not suppose that you 
are introducing a second series of letters, but that you are 
paying the debt owed for the present one. For, really, even 
though our letter is an exchange for your former letter, yet, 
since it Is more than twice the length of yours, it will satisfy 
for both purposes. Do you see to what sophistry idleness 
impels us? 

But, as for you, most noble Sir, cease to introduce in a 
few words great charges, charges which Involve, certainly, 
the utmost wickedness. For, forgetfulness of friends and con- 
tempts arising from power embrace all evils together. In fact. 
If we do not love according to the command of the Lord, 
neither do we retain that distinctive character that has been 
imposed upon us. And if we, rendered vain, are filled with 
empty conceit and false pretense, we fall into the sin of the 
Devil from which there Is no escape. Therefore, If you used 
these words because you had such a feeling toward us, pray 
that we may escape the evil which you found in our character. 
But, If your tongue came upon the words by force of habit 
and without deliberation, we shall console ourselves and urge 
your Excellency to add evidence from our deeds. Yet, realize 
this well, that the present anxiety has become an occasion of 
humiliation for us. Consequently, we shall forget you only 
when we shall fail to know ourselves. Furthermore, never 
make want of leisure an Indication of character or of an evil 


57. To Meletius, Bishop of Antioch 1 

If the intensity of the joy with which you inspire us as 
often as you write were at all evident to your Reverence, I 
know that you would never have passed by any pretext of- 
fered you for writing. On the contrary, you would have con- 
trived many excuses for sending us letters on every occasion* 
since you know the reward reserved by our loving Master 
for relieving the afflicted. For, everything here is replete with 
grief, and the thought of your Holiness is our only refuge from 
these evils. This thought is brought to us more vividly in your 
correspondence, letters full of all wisdom and grace. As a 
result, whenever we take your letter into our hands, first we 
notice its length, and we love it the more in proportion as it 
surpasses the usual length. Then we read it through, and 
we are always delighted with every word that meets our 
eyes. But, we are disappointed when we approach the end s 
so good is everything that you say in your letters! For, that 
is good which overflows from a good heart. 

But, if we should be considered worthy because of your 
prayers not only to meet you in person while we are upon 
earth, but also to receive from your living voice beneficial 
instructions or provisions for the journey of our present and 
future life, we would esteem this the greatest of blessings, and 
regard it as the prelude of God's favor toward us. Indeed, 
we would already be following our desire if our brothers, 
most true and beloved in all respects, had not detained us. 
Now, in order that I may not, through my letter, make public 

T Meletius had been exiled from Antioch in 364 because of his ortho- 
doxy, although he was not in full communion with the Catholics. This 
letter was written in 371. St. Basil's statement that the Church of 
Caesarea was still in an unfortunate state confirms this date. 


their plan, I have described It to my brother Theophrastus, 2 
so that he may explain it in detail to your Excellency. 

55. To Gregory, His Brother 1 

How can I argue with you by letter? How can I upbraid, 
as it deserves, your simplicity in all matters? Who, tell me, 
ever falls a third time into the same snares? Who falls a 
third time into the same trap? Even a brute beast would 
scarcely suffer that to happen to it. You forged one letter and 
brought It to me as from the most revered bishop, our com- 
mon uncle, deceiving me, for I know not what purpose. I 
received it as sent by the bishop through you. Why should 
I not? In my excessive joy I showed it to many of my friends. 

1 gave thanks to God. The forgery was exposed, since the 
bishop himself denied it with his own voice. We were put to 
shame because of It. Involved in the disgrace of fraud, false- 
hood, and deceit, we prayed that the earth might open for 
us. Again they gave me a second letter as dispatched by the 
bishop himself to me through your servant Asterius. Not even 
that one had the bishop himself really sent, as the most re- 
vered brother, Anthlmus, 2 has announced to us. Once more, 

2 Perhaps the deacon, Theophrastus, who died shortly after Easter, 372; 
cf. Letter 95. According to the Benedictine editors, the intentions re- 
ferred to here are the plans to bring about the peace of the whole 


1 St. Basil's uncle, Bishop Gregory, had been in sympathy with the dis- 
affected suffragans in their troubles with St. Basil, To effect a recon* 
ciliation between the two, St. Gregory of Nyssa went so far as to 
forge several letters in the uncle's name. The forgery was naturally 
found out, and the breach between the two was bridged only with 
great difficulty. This letter was written in 371. 

2 Bishop of Tyana, at odds with St. Basil. Cf. Letters 120, 121, 122 
and 210. 



Adamantius has come bringing a third one. How could I 
accept a letter sent through you or your household? I prayed 
that I might have a heart of stone, so as neither to remember 
the past nor to take notice of the present, but that I might 
bear every blow with head bowed down to the ground like 
the beasts. But, how much I suffer in my mind, since after 
a first and then a second experience, I can admit nothing 
without investigation. 

I have written this to upbraid you for your simplicity 
which I consider not only unbecoming in a Christian, but 
especially inappropriate at the present time in order that 
for the future you may both watch over youself and spare me, 
since for I must speak to you frankly you are untrust- 
worthy as a messenger in such matters. Yet, whoever they 
may be who wrote, we have answered them as was proper. 
Therefore, whether you yourself were laying this trap for me 
or had really received from the bishops the letter which you 
sent me, you have my answer. In fact, since you are our 
brother still mindful of the ties of nature, and do not look 
upon us as an enemy, you should have been otherwise con- 
cerned at the present, seeing that we have entered upon a life 
which, because it exceeds our strength, wears away cur body 
and even afflicts our soul Still, since you have in this way 
become involved in the warfare, you ought, therefore, to be 
at hand now and to share the troubles. Tor brethren/ it is 
said, 'are a help In the time of troubles. 33 

But, if the most revered bishops really are willing to meet 
us, let them make known to us a definite place and time, 
and let them summon us through their own messengers. 
Though I do not refuse to meet my uncle, I will not consent 
to do so if the summons be not in proper form. 

3 Cf. Eccii. 40.24. 


59. To Gregory, His Uncle 1 

4 1 have kept silence. And shall I always keep silence and 
be content 32 even longer to Impose upon myself that most 
severe penalty of silence, neither myself writing nor hearing 
you salute me? For, since I have persisted in this grave decision 
until the present time, I think I may fittingly use the words 
of the Prophet: 'As a woman in labor I have been patient,' 3 
always desiring either a public conference or a private talk 
with you, but failing always of my object because of my 
sins. I cannot ascribe to any other cause what has happened 
except that I am undoubtedly paying the penalty of my 
former sins by being alienated from your friendship if, in- 
deed, it is not a sacrilege to speak, in your case, of an alien- 
ation from any person, much more so from us 5 to whom 
from the beginning you have been a father. 

But my sin, like some dense overspreading cloud, now 
has produced in me a lack of comprehension of all these 
things. For, when I consider that, except for my grief over 
the situation, nothing is being attained by it, how can I 
reasonably do otherwise than attribute the present condition 
to my defects? But, if my sins are the cause of what has 
happened, let this be the end of my difficulties; if some dis- 
cipline was being administered, the purpose has assuredly 
been fulfilled. For, the time of punishment has not been short. 
And 3 therefore, being no longer able to contain myself, I 
have been the first to break silence, entreating you to be 
mindful both of us and of yourself who have shown for us 

1 Referring to the same trouble as the preceding letter and written at 
about the same time, in 371. 

2 Isa. 42 14 (Septuagint) . The Douay translations seems to follow another 

5 Ibid. 


during our whole life a solicitude beyond that which kin- 
ship calls for. And we now beg you, for our sake, to regard 
our city* with affection; at all events, not to alienate yourself 
from it on our account. 

If, then, there is any consolation in Christ, If any com- 
munion of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, ful- 
fill our^ prayer. Put an end now to our sorrowing. Offer some 
beginning of brighter associations for the future. You your- 
self lead others to what is best, but do not yourself follow 
another to unfaithfulness. For, no physical trait has been 
considered so characteristic of anyone as are peace and 
gentleness characteristic of your soul. Assuredly, it would be 
proper for one such as you to draw others to himself and to 
cause all those who come near you to be permeated, as with 
the sweet odor of some perfume, with the excellence of your 
character. For, even if at present there is still some opposi- 
tion, in a little while the value of peace will of itself be 
recognized. But, as long as dissensions arise out of slanders, 
suspicions will necessarily continue to grow worse. Truly, 
therefore, it is not becoming even for others to slight us, 
but, more than all these, for your Honor to do so. If we 
are, indeed, failing in some point, being admonished, we 
shall become better. But, this is impossible without a con- 
ference. And, if we are doing no wrong, why are we hated? 
This, therefore, I offer in my own defense. 

As to what the churches, taking advantage of our dis- 
agreement, might say in their defense, but not for their good, 
it is better to pass over in silence. For, it is not in order to 
cause distress that I am writing thus, but that I may bring 
these distressing troubles to an end. Yet, nothing/ I am 

4 I.e., Caesarea. St. Basil, on being made Archbishop of Caesarea was 
very anxious to have the support of the various bishop, among them 
Gregory, his uncle, who was in sympathy with the bishops of the op- 
position. r r 


sure, has escaped your Intelligence, 5 but with your deep 
understanding you might find out and inform others of 
much greater and more serious instances than we perceive. 
Indeed 3 you certainly have seen before we did the harm being 
done to the churches, and you are grieving more than we, 
since you have long ago been taught by the Lord not to despise 
even the least. 6 The harm is not limited now to one or two 
men, but whole cities and districts share in the fruits of our 
misfortunes, to say nothing of what kind of reports concern- 
ing us will be made in the remoter regions. Therefore, it 
would be becoming to your Magnanimity 7 to leave conten- 
tion to others; nay, rather, to pluck it out of their hearts 
if it is possible, and by patience yourself to overcome the 
troubles. Now, while it is characteristic of every man to 
avenge himself when angry, yet, to be superior even to anger 
itself belongs only to you and those closely resembling you 
in virtue. However, I will not say that he who is angry with 
us is venting his wrath upon the innocent. 

Therefore, either by your presence, or by letter, or by a 
summons to come to you, or by whatever means you may 
wish, comfort our soul. It is our prayer that your Reverence 
may be seen in our church, and may heal at once both us 
and the people by your very appearance and your gracious 
words. If, then, this is possible, well and good, but, if you 
should decide upon something else, we shall accept that. Only 
let us beg of you to make known to us without reserve what 
your Wisdom decides. 

5 Synesin a title of address generally used by St. Basil only for bishops. 

6 Cf. Matt. 18.10. 

7 Megalopsuchiaa. title of address used by St. Basil for both clergy and 

laity, but not cited for other authors. 


60. To Gregory, His Uncle 1 

I have always been glad to see my brother. In fact, why 
should I not, since he is my brother, and such a one? And 
at the present visit I have received him with the same af- 
fection, and have not in any way altered my love. God 
forbid that any such thing should happen as would make 
me forgetful of the ties of nature and hostile toward my 
relatives. On the contrary, I have deemed his presence a 
consolation in my physical infirmities and various spiritual 
sufferings. I also rejoiced much at receiving the letter which 
he brought from your Honor. For a considerable time I have 
been longing to hear from you, for no other reason than that 
we, too, might not add to our lives any sad tale of a mutual 
disagreement between the nearest of kin. This would indeed 
be a cause of pleasure to our enemies, but a misfortune to 
our friends, and it would displease God who has set up per- 
fect love as a distinguishing mark of His disciples. Therefore, 
I am compelled to speak again, urging you to pray for us 
and to care for us in all things as your kinsman. 

Since we ourselves are not able in our stupidity to under- 
stand the meaning of what is happening, we have decided to 
hold that as true which you have deigned to explain to us. 
But your Lordship 2 also must determine further appoint- 
ments: our interview with each other, a suitable time, and a 
convenient place. If, then, your Dignity is actually willing 
to descend to our Lowliness and to exchange speech with 
us, whether you wish the conference to be In the presence 
of others or in private, we shall comply, since we have re- 
solved upon this once and for all to serve you in love, 

1 Of the same subject matter and date as the preceding. 

2 Megalonotas a title of address used by St, Basil for clergy and laymen 
but not cited for other authors. 


and by all means to do what Is enjoined on us by your 
Reverence for the glory of God. 

We have not required our most revered brother to tell 
us anything by word of mouth, because, formerly, his words 
could not be attested by the facts. 

67. To Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria 1 

I have read the letter of your Holiness In which you ex- 
pressed your sorrow at the actions of the disreputable gov- 
ernor of Libya, and we have truly mourned for our country 2 
because she Is the mother and nurse of such evils. We have 
grieved, too, for Libya, our neighbor, since she shares in these 
evils and has been delivered up to the brutal practices of a 
man who spends his life in cruelty and in licentiousness. For 
such reasons, It would seem, the wise words of Eccleslastes 3 
were spoken : *Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child* 
(and here is something even more stem), c and when the 
princes eat 3 not at night, but they wanton at midday, lust- 
Ing after unnatural unions more senselessly than beasts ! There- 
fore, lashes from the Just Judge await that man and they will 
be meted out in measure equal to that which he himself 
first Inflicted upon God's saints, 

As he has been made known to our Church by your Rev- 
erence's letter, all will, furthermore, consider him as one to 
be avoided, sharing neither fire nor water nor shelter with 
him, hoping, Indeed, that there is some help for men who 
have thus won for themselves a common and unanimous 

1 This, the first of St. Basil's six extant letters to the great St. Athanasius, 
is an answer to his letter announcing the excommunication of the 

governor of Libya, a native of Cappadocia. It was written ia 371. 

2 Cf. Homer, Od. 13.219. 

3 Eccle. 10.16. 


condemnation. Sufficient for him is his record and your letter 

itself which is read everywhere. We shall not cease showing 
it to all his relatives and friends, and to strangers. And, per- 
haps, even if the due penalties do not touch him at the pres- 
ent moment, as they did the Pharaoh, 4 at some later period 
they will bring to him a heavy and painful retribution. 

62. A Letter of Consolation to the Church of Parnassus 1 

Following an old custom established by long observance 
and revealing to you the fruit of the Spirit, love In God, we 
are visiting your Reverence by letter, sharing with you both 
your grief at your bereavement and your solicitude for the 
affairs now at hand. Concerning your distressing troubles we 
say only this, that it is an opportune time for us to look to 
the precepts of the Apostle and not to grieve 'even as others 
who have no hope'; 2 not to be Insensible, of course, to what 
has happened, but, while conscious of our loss, not to be over- 
come by our grief. We should, on the other hand, consider 
our pastor happy in his death because he has laid aside his 
life at an age rich with years and has gone to his rest amid 
the greatest honors from the Lord. 

Concerning all else we have this to recommend, that you 
should cast off all dejection, regain self-control, and rise to 

4 An allusion to the plagues and the final destruction of the Pharaoh 
as described in Exodus. 

1 This letter to the people of Parnassus (a tawn of Northern Cappadocia 
near the modern Tchikin Aghyl) on the death of their bishop, while 
ostensibly written for consolation, was In reality an exhortation to elect 
an orthodox bishop. They elected the orthodox Hypsis, but he was 
expelled by the Arians in 375. Cl Letter 237. The date, according to 
Maran, op. tit. xvi, is 372, just before the visit of Valens which gave 
the Arians of this church so much power. 

2 1 Thess. 4.13. 


the necessary duty of caring for the Church, so that the holy 
God may give heed to His own flock and provide for you a 
shepherd according to His will, one who will govern you 

83. To the Govefnor of Neo-Caesarea 1 

'The wise man, e'en though he dwells in a distant land, 
though I may never behold him with my eyes, I account my 
friend, 3 says the tragic poet Euripides. 2 If we say, therefore, 
even though we have never enjoyed the favor of personal 
acquaintance with your Excellency, 3 that we are your inti- 
mate friend, do not judge these words to be flattery. Our 
friendship has sprung from report that with mighty voice 
proclaimed your achievements to all men. Moreover, since 
meeting with the most revered Elpidius, 4 we have come to 
know you as well, and have been as utterly captivated by you, 
as if we had been associated with you for a long time, gain- 
ing knowledge of your virtues through long experience. For, 
the man could not stop telling us every detail about you 
your nobility of soul, your loftiness of spirit, your gentleness 
of disposition, your experience in affairs, your prudence in 
judgment, your dignity blended with joyousness, your elo- 
quence, and other qualities which he enumerated in his long 
conversation with us but which we cannot write without mak- 
ing our letter excessively long. How, then, could I help esteem- 

1 A respectful salutation to the Governor of Neo-Caesarea, written in 371 

oA? m * an onknowri P la Y of Euripides. Cf. Nauck, Trag. Grose. Fra^ No. 
S02. Similar expressions are found in lamblichus, De vita Pythas, 33 237- 
Procop. Gaz., Epist. 154; and Cicero, De nat. deorum 1.44.121 

3 Megalophuias* title of address used by St. Basil for the 'clergy and 

for laymen. 5/ 

4 An Elpidius Is also mentioned in Letters 64, 77, and 78. 



ing such a man? Why, how could I even refrain from de- 
claring aloud the emotions of my soul? 

Therefore, accept the appellation, 5 O admirable Sir, applied 
to \ou out of true and genuine friendship, for our practice 
is far from servile flattering. Keep us numbered among your 
friends, manifesting yourself to us by continual letters and 
consoling us for vour absence. 

64. To Hesychius 1 

There are many things which even from the beginning 
have bound me to your Honor our common love of letters, 
which is proclaimed in many places by those who have made 
proof of it, and our long-standing friendship with that ad- 
mirable man, Terentius. 2 Added to this is the conversation 
which we had with that thoroughly excellent man who ful- 
fills the claim of every intimate relationship with us, 3 our most 
revered brother Elpidius. 4 He described all your virtuous 
qualities (and he, if anyone, is most able to discern and ex- 
press in words the virtue of a man). He enkindled In us 
such a longing for you that we prayed you might some day 
stand upon our ancient hearth, in order that we might enjoy 
your splendid gifts not only by hearsay but also by experience. 

5 I.e., of 'friend. 

1 Nothing is known of Hesychius except such information as Is found 
in this letter and in Letter 72. The date of this writing is the same as 
that of the preceding letter. 

2 Terentius was a general and a count of the orthodox faith. Cf. Letters 
99, 214, and 216. 

3 Cf. Homer, Iliad 6.429-430: 'Nay, Hector, thou art to me father and 
queenly mother, thou art brother, and thou art my stalwart husband.' 

4 Cf. preceding Letter 63 n. 3. 


85. To Atarbius 1 

And what end will there be to our silence, if I, on the one 
hand, should claim the privileges of age and wait for you to 
take the Initiative in offering salutations, while your Charity, 
on the other, should wish to persist in your sinister decision 
of maintaining silence? Yet, since I consider that defeat in 
matters of friendship has the force of victory, I admit that 
I arn conceding to you the credit of seeming to have pre- 
vailed over my opinion. And I have been the first to start 
writing, knowing that charity 'bears with all things, endures 
all things/ nowhere 'seeks her own,' and therefore 'never 
fails/ 2 For, he who submits to his neighbor through charity 
is not humbled. Therefore, see to it that you yourself exhibit 
for the future, at least, the first and greatest fruit of the Spirit, 
which Is charity. 3 Cast off the sullenness of an angry man 
which you are evincing by your silence, and regain joy in 
your heart, peace toward your like-minded brethren, and zeal 
and solicitude for the preservation of the churches of the 
Lord. In fact, be assured that, unless we resume a struggle 
for the churches equal to that which the opponents of sound 
doctrine maintain for their ruin and destruction, there will 

1 Atarbius, uhom Tilleraont wrongly considered an Armenian bishop, 
was Bishop of Neo.Caesarea and probably a relative of St. Basil. Cf. 
Letter 210 Letters 126, 204, 207, and 210 contain information on the 
break between St. Basil and Atarbius, and on the efforts made by St. 
Basil to mend the breach and rescue Atarbius from his errors. That he 
was Bishop of Neo-Caesarea is evident from the fact that (1) he is so 
designated in some MSS. of St. Basil's Letters; (2) the character and 
circumstances of Atarbius, as depicted in Letter 126, entirely agree with 
those of the unnamed Bishop of Neo-Caesarea referred to in Letters 
204, 207, and 210; (3) in the Acts of the Council of Constantinople he 
represents the Province of Fontus Falemoniacus, of which Neo-Caesarea 
was the metropolis. 

2 Cf. 1 Cor. 133,7,8. 

3 Cf. Gal. 5.22-23 


be nothing to hinder the truth from being swept away by 
enemies, and lost. Likewise, nothing will prevent our sharing 
the condemnation, unless, with all zeal and eagerness, in 
agreement with each other and in harmony with God, we 
show all possible care for the unity of the churches. 

Therefore, I urge, cast out of your mind the thought that 
you stand in need of union with no one. For, it is not the 
spirit of one who walks in charity or fulfills the command of 
Christ to cut himself off from union with his brethren. At 
the same time I wish that your plan of action would be to 
consider that the evil of war 4 going on around is ever com- 
ing nearer to us, also, and if we, along with the others, share 
its abuse, we shall find no one sympathizing with us, because 
we have not in our time of peace offered to the wronged 
our contribution of sympathy. 

66. To Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria 1 

I think that the present order or, rather, to speak more 
truly, disorder of the churches, grieves no one else so much 
as your Honor. Indeed, in comparing the present with the 
past you can observe how utterly different from the former 
the existing conditions have become. You can also Infer that, 
If our affairs continue sinking to a lower level with the same 
speed, there will be nothing to hinder the churches from be- 
ing changed completely In a short time to some other form. 
Frequently, while alone, I have had this thought If the per- 
version of the churches appears so piteous to us, what feeling 
about these matters must he have who has experienced the 
ancient tranquillity and unity In faith of the churches of the 

4 Le., the persecutions of Valens. 

1 This letter was written in 371. 


Lord? 2 Yet, as the greater part of the distress falls upon your 
Excellency, so we think that fittingly the greater share of the 
anxiety for the churches will be borne b\ your Wisdom. 3 1 have 
also known and realized for a long time from the moderate un- 
derstanding which I have of the affairs that the one way of 
sustaining our churches is union with the Western bishops. 
If they should be willing to show for the dioceses of our 
regions that zeal which they employed In the case of one or 
two of those in the West 4 who were discovered to be hereti- 
cal, it would perhaps be of some advantage to our common 
interests, since our rulers are looking askance at the trust- 
worthiness of the people, and the people everywhere are fol- 
lowing their bishops 5 without question. 

Now, who is more able than your Intelligence to ac- 
complish this? Who is keener in comprehending the needs? 
Who is more practical in carrying out useful measures? Who 
is more sympathetic toward the affliction of his brethren? 
Who Is more revered In the whole West than you by virtue 
of your venerable white hair? Leave to men some memorial 
worthy of your manner of life, O most honorable Father. 6 
Adorn by this one work your numberless labors In behalf 
of religion. Send from the holy church subject to you to the 
bishops throughout the West some men strong in sound 
doctrine. Tell them of the calamities pressing upon us. Sug- 
gest some means of assistance. Become a Samuel to the 

2 As St. Athanasius was about twenty-five years older than St. Basil, he 
could easily remember the peace In the Church before the outbreak of 

3 Phronesei a title of address used by St. Basil for clergymen and laymen. 

4 On the margin of the Codex Regius Secundus Is found this scholion: 
'Concerning the bishops at Rome, Auxentius and those with him.* 

5 The Benedictine editors consider that Valens Is meant by ton kratoun. 
ton, and not the rulers but the bishops by autois. It Is in this sense 
chat the passage has been translated. 

6 Timiotate a title of distinction generally applied by St. Basil to 


churches. Share in the sufferings of the people who are being 
oppressed by war. Offer up prayers for peace. Beg of God 
the favor that He send upon His churches some remem- 
brance of peace. I know that letters are weak instruments for 
advising in matters of such importance. You, however, do 
not need exhortation from others no more, certainly, than 
the noblest athletes need the acclamation of boys; nor are 
we speaking to one who does not understand, but we are 
urging on the effort of a man who is already busily concerned. 
In regard to the other affairs of the East you need, perhaps, 
the co-operation also of a greater number, and you must await 
the bishops from the West. Of course, the good condition of 
the Church at Antioch clearly depends upon your Reverence, 
who will restore some to order, silence others, and give back 
strength to the Church through unanimity. 7 Without doubt, 
you yourself understand more clearly than anyone else that, 
like the wisest doctors, you should begin the treatment in the 
most vital parts. And what could be more vital for the 
churches throughout the world than the Church at Antioch? 
If this Church should happen to return to unity, nothing 
would prevent it, as a sound head, from furnishing sound- 
ness to the whole body. And the infirmities of that city truly 
need your wisdom and evangelical sympathy. It is not only 
disunited by the heretics, but it is torn asunder by those who 
say that they are of the same mind with one another. Now, 

7 St. Basil here refers to the schisms caused by the refusal of the Eusta- 
thian or Old Catholic party to recognize Meletius as bishop of the whole 
orthodox party. After the death of Eustathms, the Church at Antioch. 
the staunch support of orthodoxy, was rent with dissensions because of 
the election of several incompetent bishops Then, Meletius was elected 
as a compromise candidate. He seems to have been neither entirely 
Nicene nor Arian, but he was esteemed by such men as St John 
Chrysostom, St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Basil, and 
even his adversary St. Epiphanius. Most of the churches of the West 
and Egypt supported Paulinus, ordained in the Old Catholic party, 
but the East supported Meletius. Cf. St. Ambrose, Letter 13, which also 
deals with this same general topic. 


to unite these and bring them together Into the harmony of 

one body is the prerogative of Him alone who by His In- 
effable power grants even to dry bones a return to sinews 
and flesh. Assuredly, the Lord performs His great works 
through those \\orthy of Him. Again, therefore, we hope that 
m this instance, also, your Excellency will see fit to assume 
the administration of these Important matters, so that you will 
settle the disorder of the people, make an end of the fac- 
tional exercise of authority, subject all to one another In love, 
and give back to the Church her pristine strength. 

67. To Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria 1 

In my earlier letter to your Honor it seemed sufficient to 
me to declare this only that all those comprising the holy 
Church at Antioch, who are strong In their faith, should be 
brought into agreement and unity. My purpose was to make 
clear that the many sections which have now been formed 
should unite with Bishop Meletius, dearly beloved of God. 
But, since this same beloved fellow deacon of ours, Doro- 
theas, 2 has asked for more definite Information on these mat- 
ters, we are, perforce, adding by way of explanation that 
both the whole East and we, who are In complete union with 
Meletius, pray and desire to see Mm governing the Church 
of the Lord. For, he Is a man blameless in faith and in- 
comparable in his manner of life, as well as being, so to say, 
the leader of the whole body of the Church, whereas all the 
rest are as segments of Its members. 

1 Concerning the same matter as the preceding and written at about the 
same time. 

2 Dorotheus was a deacon of the Church at Antioch belonging to the 
party of Meletius. St. Basil used him on several occasions to carry letters. 
Cf. Letters 47, 50, 52, 61, 62, and 271 


As a consequence, it is entirely necessary and at the same 
time advantageous for some to be united with this man, as 
small streams unite with great rivers, and for some proper 
regulation to be made for the others which will bring peace 
to the people, and will be in accord with your intelligence 
and with your renowned skill and zeal. As your unsurpassed 2 
Wisdom is not unaware, these same arrangements are already 
satisfactory on the whole to your co-religionists in the West, 
as the letter brought to us by the blessed Sylvanus 4 declares. 

68. To Meletius, Bishop of Antiock 1 

Hitherto, we wished to keep the most pious 2 brother Doro- 
theus, 3 our fellow deacon, with us, so that at the end of our 
negotiations we might send him back to acquaint your Honor 
with the details of what has taken place. But, since we had 
long delayed, postponing matters from day to day, and since 
at the same time a certain plan occurred to us for action to 
be taken In our perplexity, we dispatched this same brother 
to meet your Holiness, personally to report everything, and 
to set forth our suggestion. Our purpose was that, if our ideas 
should appear to be useful, your Excellency should zealous- 
ly strive for their realization. 

Now, to put it briefly, the opinion has prevailed that this 
same brother of ours, Dorotheus, should go to Rome and 

3 Anhyperbletona. title of distinction which St. Basil uses for both 
clergymen and la) men. 

4 The identity of Sylvanus cannot be determined. 

1 The same Bishop Meletius of whom St. Basil speaks with such esteem 
in the preceding letter. Cf. also Letter 66 n. 4. The letter is of the 
same date as the preceding. 

2 Eulabestaton a title of distinction used by St. Basil for the lower 
ranks of the clergy, but never for bishops. 

3 Cf. Letter 67. 


should Induce some of the brethren from Italy to visit us, 
coming by sea in order that they may elude those who would 
try to hinder them. For, I have seen that those who have 
influence at court are not at all willing or able to make any 
mention of the exiles to the emperor, but they consider it a 
gain to see nothing worse happening in the churches. There- 
fore, if your Wisdom should think that the plan is good, you 
will condescend to write letters offering suggestions on the 
points 4 he should discuss and the persons with whom he 
should speak. And, so that your letter will have some author- 
ity, you will by all means include in it the names of those 
who are of like mind, even if they are not present. Conditions 
here are still in a state of uncertainty. Euippius 5 indeed has 
come, but he has not, as yet, made any disclosures. However, 
they are threatening an assembly of those people from both 
the Armenian Tetrapolis and from Cilicia who hold views 
similar to theirs. 

69. To Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria 1 

The opinion which we have had for a long time of your 
Honor is always being confirmed as time advances; rather, 
it is even strengthened by the accumulation of successive 
incidents. Although it is quite enough for most men to watch 
over their own responsibilities, this does not suffice for you. 
On the contrary, you have as great a care for all the churches 

4 I.e , the deacon Dorotfaeus. 

5 Euippius was a bishop with a tendency to Arianism, and St. Basil felt 
obligated to separate from communion with him. Cf. Letter 128. Al- 
though in 360 Eustathius of Sebaste had declared Euippius unworthy of 
the name of bishop, in 376 he united with him and recognized bishops 
and presbyters ordained by him. Cf. Letters 226, 239, 244, and 25 L 

I This letter was written at about the same time as the preceding one. 


as for the one particularly entrusted to you by our benign 
Lord. For, indeed, you never cease reasoning, admonishing, 
writing, and on every occasion sending the best counselors. 
And even now we have welcomed with much joy the most 
revered brother Peter, who was sent from the holy company 
of the clergy under your direction. We have approved the 
good intent of his journey, which he explains according to 
the commands of your Honor, winning over the rebellious 
and joining together those who have been torn asunder. 
Therefore, wishing to make some contribution to the effort 
in this affair, we thought a most suitable beginning for us in 
the undertaking would be to have recourse to your Perfection 
as to the head of all, and to regard you as counselor and 
guide of our actions. For this reason we have again sent to 
your Reverence the brother Dorotheus, deacon of the church 
subject to the most honorable Bishop Meletius, who has 
shown a goodly zeal concerning the right faith and is also 
desirous of seeing the peace of the churches. Following your 
advice, therefore (which you are able to make safer from 
error both by virtue of your age and experience in affairs 
and also because of the fact that you have the guidance of 
the Spirit beyond other men), he may at once undertake the 
work which we are eagerly pursuing. 

You will, I arn sure, receive him and look upon him with 
the eyes of peace, aiding him with the support of your prayers 
and furnishing him with letters for his journey Further, after 
having him associate with the zealous brethren there, you will 
guide him in the task set before him. It seemed to us to be 
worth while to write to the Bishop of Rome, asking him to 
examine our affairs and give us advice, so that, since it is 
difficult for men to be sent from Rome by a general synodi- 
cal decree, he himself might have full authority in the matter, 
choosing men able to endure the hardships of travel and also 


competent through their gentleness and strength of character, 
to rebuke the perverse among us. The\ should be men who 
have an appropriate and effective manner of speech, and 
should understand thoroughly everything accomplished after 
the Council of Ariminunr for the dissolution of the measures 
taken there through compulsion. Furthermore, they should 
come quieth by sea \\ithout the knowledge of anyone, so as 
to arrive before the enemies of peace are aware of their 

Now, this, too, is the request of some here and necessarily, 
as it appears to us, also that they" eradicate the heresy of 

2 On the Council of Annrunum or Rimini the Catholic Encvlopedia says* 

'The Council of Rimini was opened eariv in Julv, 359, with over four 
hundred bishops present. About eighty Semi- Brians, including Ursacius, 
Genmnius, and Auxentius, withdrew from the orthodox bishops, the 
most eminent of whom was Restitutus of Carthage; Liberius, Eusebius, 
Dionysius, and others were still in exile The two parties sent separate 
deputations to the Emperor, the orthodox asserting clearly their firm 
attachment to the faith of Nicaea. the -\rinn rmnotitv adhering to the 
imperial formula. But the inexperienced representatives of the oithodox 
majority allowed themselves to be deceived, and not onl\ entered into 
communion with the heretical delegates, but e\en subscribed, at Nice 
in Thrace, a formula to the effect merely that the Son is like the 
Father according to the Scriptures (the uords "in all things" being 
omitted). On their return to Rimini, the) Here met with the unan- 
imous protests of their colleagues. But the threats of the consul 
Taurus, the remonstrances of the Semi-Arians against hindering peace 
between East and West for a word not contained in Scripture, their 
privations and their home-sickness all combined to weaken the con- 
stancy of the orthodox bishops. And the last twen$y uere induced to 
subscribe when Ursacius had an addition made to the formula of Nice, 
declaring that the Son is not a creature like other creatures. Pope 
Liberius, having regained his liberty, rejected this formula, which was 
thereupon repudiated by many who had signed it. In view of the 
hasty manner of its adoption and lack of approbation by the Holy 
See, it could have no authority/ 

3 I.e., the Romans, especially, proposed representatives. St. Basil was 
annoyed that Marcellus, whom he regarded as unorthodox, was, in the 
words of St. Jerome, 'fortified by communion with Julius and Athana- 
sius, popes of Rome and Alexandria.* Cf. De Fir Illust. 86. According 
to Cardinal Newman, St. Athanasius upheld Marcellus 'to about A.D. 
360,' but in his fourth oration against the Arians attacked him pointedly 
without naming him. 


Marcellus 4 on the ground that It Is dangerous, harmful, and 
hostile to the true faith. Up to the present time, in all the 
letters which they write, they never cease anathematizing the 
detestable Arius up and down and banishing him from the 
churches. But they seem to have brought no charge against 
Marcellus who has displayed an impiety diametrically op- 
posed to that of Arius, has been sacrilegious as regards the 
very existence of the divinty of the Only-begotten, and has 
accepted in a wrong sense the expression, 'the Word. 5 He 
declares, Indeed, that the Only-begotten was called the 
"Word/ and that He came forth according to the need and 
the time, but had again returned to Him whence He had 
come forth, and that He neither existed before His procession 
nor does He subsist 5 after His return. Moreover, as a proof of 
this, the books containing that sinful writing are in our pos- 
session. But, in spite of all, they did not seem to discredit 
him in any way and they are guilty to this degree, that in 
the beginning, in ignorance of the truth they even received 
him into ecclesiastical communion. Therefore, the present 
circumstances demand that mention be made of this man 
in proper manner, so that men wanting an opportunity 6 may 
not have one, since those sound in faith are joined with your 
Holiness and the men who are wavering in the true faith 
are publicly exposed. As a result, we shall hereafter know 
those who are united with us, and not, as in a night battle, 
be unable to distinguish between friends and foes. We urge 
only that the deacon whom we mentioned before be sent 

4 Cf. Letters 125 and 263 for St. Basil's opinion of the heretical doc- 
Urines of Marcelius of Ancyra. Marcellus had upheld the cause of 
orthodoxy at Nicaea Later, however, when attacking the errors of 
Asterius, he was supposed to have taught that the Son had no real 
personality, but was merely an external manifestation of the Father. 

5 I.e., does not exist in essence. 

6 I.e., of following the heresy of Marcellus* as they could safely do so as 
long as he remained in good standing for orthodoxy. 


out Immediately on the first voyage, so that some of the 
things for which we prayed can be accomplished at least 
next year. 

Now, this you yourself will understand even before we 
speak and you certainly will be careful that, when these men 
take charge, if God wills it, they will not start schisms in 
the churches, but will in every way draw together into unity 
those holding the same doctrines, even if they find some who 
have personal reasons for differences with each other. This is 
necessary, lest the orthodox people, revolting with their lead- 
ers, should be split into many factions. For there is need of 
zealous endeavor that everything be considered secondary to 
peace, and that before all else attention be given to the 
Church at Antioch, so that the sound part may not become 
weak by being divided on the question of the Persons. 7 Or, 
rather, you yourself will hereafter care for all these matters 
when, as we pray, with God's help you will find all entrust- 
ing to you the affairs, pertaining to the present condition of 
the churches. 

70. Without Address, concerning a Synod 1 

To renew bonds characteristic of the early love and again 
to restore to vigor the peace of the Fathers, the heavenly and 
saving gift of Christ, which has been dimmed by time, is for 
us both essential and advantageous, and it will be, I well 
know, a pleasure to your Christ-loving spirit. For, what could 
be more pleasing than to see men who are separated by such 
great distances bound in a union of love into one harmonious 

7 I.e., of the Godhead. 

I This letter is considered by all, Including Tillemont and the Benedic- 
tine editors, as addressed to Pope Damasus. It was written in the autumn 

of 371. 


membership in the body of Christ? Almost the whole East, 
most honorable Father (and by the East I mean the regions 
from Illyricum to Egypt 2 ) is being shaken by a mighty storm 
and flood. The old heresy sown by Arius, the enemy of truth, 
is now shamelessly springing up, like a bitter root that yields 
deadly fruit, and is finally prevailing. For, as a result of 
calumny and abuse, the champions of sound faith in each 
diocese have been banished from the Church, and the con- 
trol of affairs has been handed over to those who are leading 
captive the souls of purest faith. We have awaited one solu- 
tion of the difficulties the visitation of your Mercifulness. 3 
Indeed, in times past, your incredible charity has always at- 
tracted us and we for a short time regained strength in our 
soul because of the joyful report that we should have a visita- 
tion from you. But, we are utterly disappointed in our hope, 
and, being no longer able to endure, we have resorted to an 
exhortation by letter, asking you to rouse yourselves to our 
assistance and send some of the like-minded brethren either 
to reconcile those at variance or to restore to friendship the 
churches of God, or, at least, to make more evident to you 
those responsible for the confusion. This will also make It 
clear to you with whom you ought for the future to have com- 

We do not at all seek something new, but what has been 
customary both with the other blessed men of old, 4 who 

2 Roughly, the two eastern prefectures of Diocletian and his successors. 

3 Eusplanchnias a title of address used by St. Basil for clergymen, but 
not found in the works of other authors. 

4 The bishops of Rome. The Benedictine edition points out that the 
kindness of the bishops of Rome here mentioned by St. Basil is borne 
out by the evidence both of Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth (cf. Eusebius, 
His,t. EccL 4.23) , of Dionysius of Alexandria (Dionysius to Sixtus II 
in Eusebius, Hist. EccL 7.5) , and of Eusebius himself in bis history. 
The troubles here referred to took place in the time of Gallienus, when 
the Scythians plundered Cappadocia and the neighboring countries (cf. 
Sozomen, EccL Hut. 2.6) . 


were dear to God, and especially with yourselves. We know 
from continuous tradition, and we have been taught by our 
fathers in their answers to our questions, and by letters still 
preserved among us, that the renowned Dionyslus, 5 the most 
blessed bishop, who was conspicuous among you for the 
soundness of his faith and, in fact, for all virtues, visited our 
Church at Caesarea and consoled our fathers through letters, 
and also sent men to redeem the brethren from captivity. But, 
our affairs now are in a sadder and more difficult condition, 
and demand even more care. For, at present, we lament, not 
the overthrowing of earthly structures, but the seizing of the 
churches; we behold, not bodily slavery, but the enslavement 
of souls 3 effected daily by the fighters for heresy. Therefore, 
unless you will now rouse yourselves for our relief, you will in 
a short time find there are none to whom you may stretch 
your hand, since all things will be under the dominion of 

71. Basil to Gregory 1 

I received the letter from your Reverence through the 

5 A Greek by birth, and consecrated July 22, 259, on the death of Sixtus 
II, during the persecution of Valerian. Nothing is recorded o him ex- 
cept his efforts against heresy. 

1 As St. Gregory of Nazianzus had refused to give his assistance for the 
election of St. Basil as bishop, so he later refused his support to St. 
Basil and would not accept any great responsibilities. He begged to 
be excused for remaining at Nazianzus on the ground that it was better 
for St. Basil's sake thai there should be no suspicion of favor toward 
personal friends, Cf. Greg. Naz., Letter 45. The present letter, written 
In 371, is partly an answer to the letter from St. Gregory in which he 
announced this stand; partly a plea that St. Gregory would not heed 
the charges of heterodoxy which were being spread against him. 


most revered brother Heienius; 2 and what you Intimated to 
us he in person clearly explained. As to how we were affected 
on hearing it, you certainly can have no possible doubt. But, 
since we have decided to consider our love for you superior 
to every grievance, we have received even this as is befitting, 
and we pray to the holy God that during the days or hours 
remaining to us we may be preserved in the same disposition 
toward you as in the past. For, during that time we were 
conscious of having failed in nothing either great or small. 

But, if that man 3 who at present is striving eagerly to pry 
into the life of the Christians 4 and who also thinks that as- 
sociating with us brings him some dignity is inventing what 
he has not heard and is relating what he has not understood, 
it is no wonder. But, this is amazing and incredible that 
of the brothers with you he has as listeners those who were 
the truest to me, and not as listeners only, but even, it seems, 
as disciples. At all events, even though under other circum- 
stances it would be surprising that such a person should be 
the teacher and I the one disparaged, the unhappy state of 
affairs has taught us to be annoyed at nothing. In fact, be- 
cause of our sins, more ignominious reports than these have 
for a long time been commonly made against us. For my 
part, indeed, if I have not yet given that man's brethren a 
proof of my beliefs concerning God, not even now have 1 
any answer to give. For, how will a brief letter convince 
those whom a long life has not persuaded? But, if my former 
life is sufficient in itself, let the accusations of the slanderers 

2 Hellenius was a surveyor of customs at Naziaeras, the confidential 
friend of both St. Basil and St. Gregory of Nazianzus. Besides delivering 
to St. Basil the message here referred to, we find him in 372 conveying 
a message from the bishops of Lesser Armenia, C, Letter 98. 

3 St. Basil avoids mentioning the slanderer by name. 

4 I.e., not entering into the brotherhood of Christians, but merely peer- 
ing in. 


be considered as nonsense. Yet, If we permit unbridled mouths 
and untaught minds to discuss whatever they may wish, and 
if we have ears ready to accept their statements, not only 
shall we ourselves receive wrong accounts of other's affairs, 
but others also of ours. 

Now, the cause of this is the fact that we do not meet to- 
gether, a situation which I have long urged should be avoided, 
but about which I am now silent through weariness. For, if, 
in accordance with our agreement of former days and with 
the care we now owe to our churches, we had passed a 
great part of the year with each other, we would not have 
given opening to the slanderers. But, if it seems best, dis- 
miss these men from your mind, and be encouraged yourself 
to labor with us in the struggle which lies ahead, and with 
us to meet him who is making war against us. For, if you are 
only seen, you will check his assault, and you will separate 
those who are joining together to overthrow their father- 
land by making known to them that you yourself, by the 
grace of God, are the leader of our assembly, and that you 
will close every iniquitous mouth that pours forth contempt 
against God. If this is done, the very circumstances will 
show who it is that is following you toward the good, and 
who is changing from one side to another and through cow- 
ardice betraying the word of truth. But, if the interests of 
the Church are betrayed, there is little reason for me to try 
to convince by words those who regard my worth as would 
men who have not yet learned to measure themselves. In 
fact, after a short time, by the grace of God, the arguments 
drawn from our actions will refute the slanders, since we 
expect to endure even greater sufferings, 5 perhaps, for the 
word of truth, but, if not, at least to be driven from our 

5 Perhaps St. Basil is referring to martyrdom. 


churches and our fatherlands. 6 Even if nothing for which we 
hope shall happen, the judgment of Christ is not far off. 
Consequently, if you request a conference for the sake of the 
churches, I am ready to hasten wherever you may summon 
me, but if to end the slanders, I have no leisure at present to 
give an answer concerning them. 

72. To Hesychius 1 

I know both your love for us and your zeal for good. There- 
fore, since I must appease my most beloved 2 son, Callisthenes, 3 
I thought that I would more easily accomplish my earnest 
desire if you would share my solicitude. The man has been 
vexed at the most eloquent 4 Eustochius; and his vexation is 
just. He charges the latter's servants with insolent and mad 
acts against him. We are asking him to relent, to be satisfied 
with the fear with which he has inspired both those over- 
bold men and their masters, and to put an end to the quarrel 
by granting pardon. For, in this way, two advantages will ac- 
crue to him the respect of men and the approval of God 
if he is willing to mingle forbearance with the fear aroused. 
Do you yourself, therefore, if you have any past friendship 
and intimacy with the man, beg of him this favor, and if 
you know any in the city who are able to appease him, take 

6 Probably Caesarea, the place of his birth, and the Pontus, the region 
of his bringing up. 

1 Cf. Letter 44, concerning Hesychius. This letter was written about 371. 

2 Potheinotaton a title of distinction used by St. Basil for clergy and 

3 Callisthenes and Eustochius were both laymen of Cappadocia. Nothing 
is known of them except what has been learned from this and the fol- 
lowing letters. 

4 Logiotdtou a title of distinction used by St. Basil for laymen. 


them as companions In our solicitude, telling them that the 
accomplishment of this will be especially gratifying to me. 

And send back the fellow deacon when he has completed 
the business for which he was despatched. For, I am con- 
fused, when men have recourse to me, that I am unable to 
be of any help to them. 

73. To Callisthenes 1 

I gave thanks to God on reading the letter of your Nobility : 
first, because I received a greeting from a man who chose to 
honor us, for, traly 3 we value most highly association with 
eminent men; secondly, because I had the pleasure of being 
kindly remembered. The sign of remembrance was the letter. 
When I received it and understood its purport, I marveled 
at how truly, according to the opinion of all, it bespoke pa- 
ternal reverence. For the fact that a man, incensed and an- 
gered, and eager for vengeance against those who had vexed 
him, really put an end to a great part of his vehemence, and 
gave us authority in the affair, afforded the pleasure as of 
a father rejoicing over a spiritual son. In return for this, then, 
what else remains but to pray for blessings for you that to 
friends you may be most pleasing, to enemies formidable, 
but by all alike respected, in order that even those who 
have failed in any of their proper duties, taking notice of 
your gentleness, may reproach themselves because they have 
wronged such a person as you. 

Now, since you have ordered the servants brought to the 
scene of their disorderly conduct, I ask to know the object 
of your Excellency's demanding this. For, if you yourself will 

I The Callisthenes mentioned in the preceding letter. This letter was writ. 
ten at about the same time and on the same subject as the preceding. 


be present and will in person exact the penalty for the bold 
deeds, the slaves will certainly be at hand. In fact, what else 
can be done if you have already decided upon this? But, we 
do not know what further favor we shall receive, if we are 
not able to free the slaves from punishment. And, if in this 
case business on the way detains you, who will be there to 
receive the men? And who will punish them for you? But, 
if you are resolved that they shall come into your presence, 
and this has been decided once and for all, order them to 
come no farther than Sasima, and there show the gentleness 
and magnanimity of your character. For after you have taken 
in hand those who have provoked you, and have shown in 
this way that your dignity must not be treated with con- 
tempt, dismiss them unharmed, as we urged in our former 
letter, thus not only granting us a favor, but also receiving 
from God the recompense for your deeds. 

And I say this, not because I think that the matters should 
be brought to an end in this way, but because I am yielding 
to your impetuosity and because I fear that some rawness of 
spirit may remain, and as even the simplest of remedies ap- 
pear painful in the case of inflamed eyes, so now, also, our 
words may rouse your anger rather than calm it. Yet, to en- 
trust the vengeance to us would be especially becoming and 
would avail to bring the greatest honor to you and to achieve 
the desirable respect for me among my friends and contem- 
poraries. At any rate, even if you have sworn to give them 
up for punishment according to the laws, our censure is 
neither inferior as a legal remedy, nor is the divine law less 
honored than are the civil laws. 

But, it would be possible that, if they were corrected here 
by our laws, in which you yourself also have the hope of sal- 
vation, you would be freed from the obligation of your oath, 
and they would pay a penalty commensurate with their sins. 


But, I am again writing a long letter. For, in my great 
desire to persuade you, I cannot willingly leave unsaid any 
of the thoughts which come to my mind, fearing lest on that 
account my request may become ineffectual, because I have 
done my teaching inadequately. O most honorable and noble 
son of the Church, confirm both my hopes which I now place 
in you and the unanimous testimony of all concerning your 
graciousness and gentleness, and order the soldier to depart 
from us at once. As the matter stands, he has left undone no 
act of annoyance or of insolence, since he prefers to avoid 
grieving you rather than to hold all of us as his close friends. 

74. To Martinianus 1 

How much, think you, would I esteem the opportunity of 
our some time meeting and conversing together at greater 
length, so that I may enjoy all your splendid qualities? For, 
if it is important as an evidence of culture 4 to have seen the 
cities of men and to have learned their minds, 52 association 

I The Identity of this Martioianus is not known beyond the fact that he 
was a personal friem* of St. Basil. From the references in the letter to 
his great knowledge and extensive travels It may be Inferred that he 
was a philosopher or a man of letters. Cf. W. M. Ramsay, 'Basil of 
Caesarea; Expositor 5, Series 3 (1896) 54. St. Basil wrote this and the 
two following letters to obtain mediators with the emperor for his 
country. The policy of the Byzantine government was to divide the 
larger provinces so as to lessen the power of the provincial governors. 
It was now time for Cappadocia to be divided; and Valens* hatred of 
St. Basil caused him to leave the smaller section of the country to the 
metropolis, Caesarea. These letters, written in 371, are some of the 
poorest in the collection. St. Basil, however, showed his true greatness 
immediately after this when Valens came to Caesarea. 

2 Cf. Odyssey Off: 4 Many were the men whose cities he saw and whose 
mind he learned, and many the woes he suffered in his heart upon the 
sea, seeking to win his own life and the return of his comrades.' Cf. 
also Horace, De arte poetica 142: 4 Qui mores hominum multorum vidit 
et urbes.' 


with you, I think, bestows this favor in a short time. In fact, 
what greater advantage is it for a person to see many men, 
one at a time, than to see one man who has acquired the ex- 
perience of all men together? I would rather say that the 
benefit is greatest in whatever procures without fatigue an 
acquaintance with the beautiful, and gathers a knowledge of 
virtue free from admixture with evil At all events, whether it 
is renowned deeds or words worthy of remembrance, or the 
laws and customs of the most excellent men, all are stored up 
in the treasury of your soul. Therefore, not only for a year, 
as Alcinous listened to Odysseus, 3 but for my whole life 
should I pray that I might listen to you, and that for this 
reason, at least, my life might be a long one, even though a 
burdensome one to me. Why in the world, then, am I writing 
now, when I ought to be present with you? Because my af- 
flicted country urgently summons me to herself. You are not 
ignorant, most noble Sir, of what she has suffered that cer- 
tain veritable Maenads, evil spirits, have torn her asunder 
as they did Pentheus. In fact, they divide and redivide her 
like inexperienced doctors, making her wounds more painful 
because of their lack of experience. Now, since she is suffer- 
ing because she has been cut to pieces, it is left to us to cure 
her ills, as it were. Therefore, the citizens have written urg- 
ing us to come; it is necessary to present ourselves, not because 
we shall be of any assistance in the trouble, but to avoid the 
censure of desertion. For, you know how prone to hope are 
those who are in great straits, and prone at times also to find 
fault, always directing the blame to what has been disre- 

Yet, for this same reason I wanted to meet you and to 
express my opinion, or rather to entreat you to consider some 
vigorous policy one becoming to your high spirit and not 

3 Cf Odyssey Bks. 7, 8, 9. 


to neglect our country which has fallen on her knees, but to 
go to the court, saying with your accustomed frankness that 
they should not think that they have acquired two provinces 
Instead of one. They have not brought In the second from 
some other country, but have acted almost the same as a 
person who, after he had gained possession of a horse or a 
cow, would cut it in two, and then think that he had two 
animals In place of the one. Yet, he did not make two; he 
even destroyed the one. Furthermore, say to those who are In 
authority that they do not In this way strengthen their do- 
minions, for power lies not In number but in the state of 
their affairs. For, now, we certainly think that some, perhaps 
because of their Ignorance of the truth, others, because they 
do not wish to cause grief by their words, and still others, be- 
cause It is a matter of no concern to them, disregard what is 
happening. Therefore, If it would be possible for you to go 
to the emperor himself, that would be best for our affairs, 
and befitting the noble character of your life. And if it is 
especially hard, both because of the time of year, and be- 
cause of your age which, as you yourself say, has an accom- 
panying sluggishness, at least there Is no labor involved in 
writing. Therefore, if you give aid through letters to your 
country, you will, first, be fully aware that you have failed 
In nothing that comes within your power; then, furthermore, 
you will offer sufficient consolation to the afflicted by the 
very fact of showing sympathy. Would that it had been pos- 
sible for you to be at hand in these troubles and to see with 
your own eyes the sad condition Itself. For, thus being moved 
by the very vividness of the sight, you would, perhaps, have 
given vent to some utterance befitting both your Lordship 
and the dejection of the city. But, at all events, do not refuse 
to believe us when we give our description. Or would we truly 



need a Simonldes 4 or some other such lyric poet who knows 
how to bewail the sufferings in a striking manner? Yet, why 
do I say Simonldes? I should have said Aeschylus, 5 or some- 
one like him, who graphically portrayed a terrible calamity, 
wailing aloud with mighty voice. 

For, those assemblies and speeches and conferences in the 
market place by men of high repute, and such things as 
formerly made our city famous, have gone from us. As a re- 
sult, any man of learning and eloquence now would seem to 
approach the market place more rarely than those did formerly 
at Athens who were charged with dishonor or were unclean 
of hand. There has been introduced in place of these assem- 
blies the crudeness of certain Scythians or Massagetae. And 
there is only the sound of demanding creditors and hounded 
debtors, and of men being beaten with whips. The galleries 
on each side, resounding with gloomy echoes, seem, as it were, 
to send forth their own voice, groaning over the things that 
are happening. The struggle for life itself does not permit us 
to take into account at all closed schools and torchless nights. 
For, the danger is not slight that, since those in power have 
been removed, everything will go down with them as with 
falling props. What words could adequately describe our 
evils? Some have fled, a part of our senate, and not the most 
inefficient part, preferring life exile to Podandus. 6 And when 
I say Podandus, imagine that I say the Laconian Ceades, 7 

4 St. Basil is probably thinking of Simonldes' lament on those ivho died 
at Thermopylae. 

5 St. Basil probably has In mind Aeschylus' Seven Against Thebes and 
the Orestean trilogy. 

6 Modern Podando, in southern Cappadocia, established bv Valens as 
the captial of the new division of the province. 

7 The name given by the Spartans to the pit into which all condemned 
criminals were thrown Cf. Pausamas 4184; Thucydides 1134; Strabo 


or any other natural pit you may have seen In the world, 
such places, In fact, v\hlch, because they exhale sickness-laden 
breezes, some men have Instinctively called Charonian. Real- 
ize that the vileness of Podandus also Is like that of some such 
place. Accordingly, of the three divisions of our citizens, 
some, rising up, flee with their wives and their household; 
others, the majority of the noblest In the city, are led away 
like captives, a pitiable sight to their friends but fulfilling the 
prayer of their enemies, if, of course, there has been anyone 
at all Invoking so terrible a curse upon us. But, now, the 
third part Is left. These, being not only unable to endure the 
abandonment of friends, but being at the same time exposed 
in their weakened condition to destitution, have grown tired 
of life itself. 

We urge you to make these facts clear to all by your own 
voice, and by the righteous frankness of speech which you 
possess by virtue of your state of life, distinctly declaring this 
that, unless they quickly change their plans, they will not 
ha\*e any to whom they may show clemency. At all events, 
you will either be of some assistance for the common welfare 
or you will have done what Solon 8 did, who, not being able 
to defend his abandoned citizens when the citadel had already 
been taken, put on his armor and sat down before the gates, 
making it very evident from his appearance that he did not 
agree to the things that were happening. Furthermore, I know 
this most positively ? that, even If anyone would not now re- 
ceive your opinion, a little later he will bestow on you the 
greatest praise for your good will and your wisdom, when 
he sees affairs turning out according to your prediction. 

8 This story Is related In Plutarch, Solon 30 and in Diogenes Laertius 



75. To Aburgius 1 

Although there are many qualities which make your char- 
acter superior to that of others, nothing Is so characteristically 
yours as zeal for your country. Moreover, because you make 
just returns to that country from which you are sprung, you 
have become so great that your fame is known throughout 
the whole world. This same country which brought you forth 
and nourished you has now returned to the incredible con- 
dition found in ancient tales, and no one coming into our city, 
not even one who is very well acquainted, would recognize 
it, so suddenly has it been transformed into a complete soli- 
tude. Even before this many of the magistrates were taken 
away from it, and, now, almost all have migrated to Po~ 
dandusr Those remaining, having been torn from them, have 
themselves fallen into utter despair, and all have been 
plunged into such a depth of despondency, as even to drain the 
city of inhabitants and to make the place a terrible solitude, 
a pitiable sight indeed to friends, but one that brings much 
joy and cheer to those who have been watching a long time 
for our fall. Who, then, will stretch out a hand to us? Or 
who will let fall a sympathetic tear over us, except your 
Clemency, who would feel sympathy even for another's city 
if it were enduring such sufferings, to say nothing of that 
one which brought you forth into life? If, therefore, you have 
any power, show it in our present need. At any rate, you have 
great influence with God, who has abandoned you under no 
circumstances, and has given many proofs of His benevolence. 

1 Another attempt to save Cappadocia from being divided into two prov- 
inces Cf. Letter 74 n I. Letter* 33, 147, 178, and 304 are also ad- 
dressed to Aburgius. Cf. Letter 33 n. 1. 

2 See Letter 74 n 6. 


Only, may you be willing to rise to our aid, and to use the 
poner which you possess for the assistance of your fellow 


76. To the Master Sophronius 1 

Truly, the magnitude of the misfortunes which have over- 
taken our country was impelling me to go to court and de- 
scribe not only to your Excellency but also to all others who 
possess the greatest influence in civil affairs the despondency 
which has overspread our city. But, since my physical con- 
dition and the care of the churches hold me back, I have 
been forced, meanwhile, to voice my lamentation to your 
Lordship in a letter. And I say that no ship at sea, over- 
whelmed by violent winds, has ever disappeared from sight 
so suddenly, no city destroyed by earthquakes or flooded by 
waters ever met with such total obliteration, as our city, swal- 
lowed up by this new administration of affairs, has suffered 
complete destruction. Our institutions have become a myth. 
The administration of our government is gone; the whole civil 
assembly, having abandoned its dwelling in the city in hope- 
less despair at the loss of its rulers, is wandering about the 
country. Now, even the marketing of the necessities of life 
has come to an end, and this city, which formerly gloried 
both in learned men and in all things else by which wealthy 
cities thrive, has become a most hideous spectacle. But, we 
thought, as we are in terrible straits, that the one solace was 
to deplore our sufferings to your Clemency, and to beseech 
you, if you have any power, to stretch out your hand to our 
city, which has already fallen to Its knees. Now, the manner 

1 Another plea for help at the time of the division of Cappadocia, written 
at about the same time as the preceding letter. For Sophronius, cf. 
Letter 32 n. 1; also Letters 96, 177, ISO, 193, and 272. 


through which you may be of some benefit in the circum- 
stances I myself am not able to suggest. No doubt, however, 
it will be easy for you to find a way because of your intelli- 
gence, and not difficult to use the means found because of 
the power given to you by God. 

77. Without Address, concerning Therasius 1 

This one advantage we have enjoyed from the administra- 
tion of the great Therasius the continuous visits of your 
Eloquence to us. But, since we have been deprived of our 
ruler, we have likewise suffered the loss of this advantage. 
Yet, since favors once bestowed upon us by God remain stead- 
fastly with us and though memory of them are present in 
the souls of each of us even though we are separated in body, 
let us at least continue to write and tell each other our needs, 
especially at the present time when the storm has offered this 
briefly enduring truce. 

We still are hoping that you will not depart from the 
admirable 2 man, Therasius, but decide it proper to share 
such great cares with him, or, at least, that you will not 
accept unavailingly the opportunity which permits you to 
see your friends and be seen by them. Although I have much 
to say about many things, I have deferred them until our 
meeting, since I do not think that it is safe to entrust such 
matters to letters. 

1 This letter was probably written to Elpidius, about whom the following 
letter was written, Therasius appears to have been the Governor of 
Cappadocia, who had been deposed because of slanderous charges 
brought against him. It is possible that Therasius is the governor in 
whose behalf St. Basil wrote to Sophronius, the Prefect of Constanti- 
nople, in 372. Cf. Letter 96. This letter is of about the same date as 
the preceding. 

2 Thaumasibtdtou a title of distinction used by St. Basil for clergymen 
and laymen. 


78. Without Address, in Behalf of Elpldius 1 

Your kindly regard for our most revered companion Elpl- 
dlus has not escaped our notice how, with your customary 
sagacity, you gave the prefect an opportunity to show Ms 
benevolence. Therefore, through this letter we now urge you 
to make this favor perfect, reminding the prefect personally 
to put in charge of our country the man on whom depends 
nearly the whole care of our public interests. Consequently, 
you will be able to suggest many plausible reasons which 
will necessarily cause the prefect to order him to remain in 
our country. Now, in what condition our affairs are here, 
and how valuable the man is in our troubles, there is as- 
suredly no need for us to explain, since you yourself with your 
intelligence understand it thoroughly. 

79. To Eustathius, Bishop of Sebaste 1 

Even before I received your letter, I was aware of the dis- 
tress which you feel for every soul and, especially, for our 

! Thisletter was written at about the same time as the preceding. 

7"Iustaihnis was the Bishop of Sebaste (modem Sivas) , a town of the 
Pontus and capital of Armenia Minor, from 357-380. He was regarded 
with suspicion by most schools of theology of his day because of his 
frequent change of opinion, but he had succeeded in securing and re- 
taming the affection of St. Basil. He had expressed his great joy at St. 
Basil's elevation to the episcopate and offered to aid his friend in rns 
new and responsible position. This letter shows that kindly relation 
which existed between the two men. Suggesting that St. Basil would 
need fellow helpers and counselors, Eustathius recommended certam 
persons, whom St. Basil later complained were but spies watching his 
every word and action, interpreting them in an evil way, and reporting 
them to their chief in an attempt to convict him of heresy. This was 
the beginning of a bitter straggle between the two which lasted until 
the death of St. Basil in 379. This letter was written about the year 371. 


Lowliness, because I have been thrown into this conflict. 
And when I had received the letter from the most revered 
Eleusinius, 2 and had actually seen him present, I thanked 
God, who, through His spiritual aid, has granted us in our 
struggles for the cause of religion such an assistant and fel- 
low soldier. And let it be known to your unsurpassed Rev- 
erence that, up to the present, we have suffered some attacks 
from high officials and these violent, since for personal rea- 
sons both the prefect 3 and the chamberlain 4 argued for our 
adversaries. Meanwhile, we have endured every attack un- 
moved, by the mercy of God, who is favoring us with the 
assistance of the Spirit and through Him has strengthened 
our weakness. 

80. To Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria 1 

The more the disorders of the Church increase, the more 
do we turn toward your Perfection, believing that the one 
consolation left to us in our dangers lies in your leadership. 
You, indeed, have saved us from this terrible storm by the 
power of your prayers and by your knowledge of how to give 
the best suggestions in our troubles. This is believed by all 
alike who even slightly know your Perfection by hearsay or 
by experience. Therefore, do not be remiss in praying for 
us and encouraging us by your letters. For, if you had realized 

2 Known only from this letter. He was sent with this present letter, ap- 
parently to warn St. Basil of the approach of the Emperor Valens, and 
to express the fear he felt for the safety of Catholics, especially of SL 
Basil himself. , . ... 

3 During the later Empire, the Pretorian Prefects lost their military 
power. Four prefects continued to be created, but they were civil rulers 
of the provinces. . , 

4 A favorite eunuch placed in charge of the private apartments of toe 
imperial palace. 

1 Gf. Letter 61 n. 1. 


the greatness of their benefit to us, you would never have let 
pass any opportunity of writing which was offered to you. 
And, if we should be accounted worthy, by the aid of your 
prayers, to see you, to enjoy noble gifts, and to add to the 
story of our life the meeting with your truly great and apos- 
tolic soul, we would assuredly consider that we had received 
from the loving kindness of God a consolation compensating 
for all we have suffered in our whole life. 

8L To Bishop Innocent 1 

As I was delighted at receiving your Charity's letter, so in 
the same measure was I grieved because you have placed 
upon us a burden of responsibilities which exceeds our 
strength. For, how shall we be able, from so great a dis- 
tance, to be in charge of such an important administration? 
Doubtless, as long as the Church possesses you, it rests, as 
it were, on its own supports. But, if the Lord makes some 
dispensation of your life, who as revered as you can I send 
out from here to care for the brethren? What you honorably 
and sensibly requested in your letter, desiring in your lifetime 
to see him who is to rule the chosen flock of the Lord after 
you, that the blessed Moses also desired and saw. Therefore, 
since the position is important and much talked of, and your 
work is well known to many, and since the times are difficult 
and in need of a mighty pilot in the face of the continual 
squalls and the floods rising up against the Church, I did 
not think it safe for my soul to treat the matter perfunctorily. 
Especially was I mindful of what you have written, that you 

I This letter is assigned by Wittig to St. John Chrysostom. C. Letter 50 
n. I. The Benedictines ascribe it to St. Basil, written in 372. 



intend to oppose me before the Lord, citing me for negligence 
concerning the churches. 

In order, then, that I may not go to trial with you, but 
rather may find in you a companion in my defense before 
Christ, I looked around in the meeting of the presbyters in 
the city and chose as a most honorable vessel the offspring of 
the blessed Heraiogenes, 2 who in the great Council 3 wrote 
the important and inviolable profession of faith. This man 
has been a presbyter of the Church for many years, is stead- 
fast in character, fully acquainted with the canons, undeviat- 
ing in faith, and has lived a life up to the present time of 
self-control and asceticism, even though the rigor of his 
austere living has already wasted away his flesh. He is poor 
and has no means of livelihood in this world, so that he does 
not even have enough bread, but together with the brethren 
who are associated with him makes a living by the work of 
his hands. It is my desire to send him. 

If, then, you need such a man as this and not, rather, 
some younger person fit only to serve as a messenger and to 
fulfill routine secular duties, be so kind as to write me at 
the very first opportunity, in order that I may send you this 
man who is chosen of God, suitable for the work, and revered 
by those who come in contact with him. He also instructs 
his opponents with meekness. I could, indeed, have sent him 
out immediately, but, since you had first requested a man 
both honorable and beloved by me in other respects, but 
far inferior to the one mentioned above, I wished to make 

2 He was the spiritual offspring of Hermogenes, who had ordained him. 
Hermogenes had been Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia and the pred- 
ecessor of Dianius. Cf. Letters 244 and 263. 

3 I.e., at Nicaea. St, Basil seems to forget that Leontius was present at 
Nicaea as Bishop of Caesarea. Hermogenes may have been present in 
lower orders and may have written the creed. 


my opinion known to you, in order that, If you want a man 
of this calibre, you may either send, about the time of the 
fast, one of the brethren to take him along, or may write to 
us if you have no one able to endure the fatigue of a journey 

82. To Alhanasius, Bishop of Alexandria 1 

When we look into our affairs and perceive the difficulties 
by which every good action is restrained as if fettered by some 
chain, we fall into an absolute despair concerning ourselves. 
But, when again we look to your Grace and consider that 
our Lord has preserved you as the physician of the maladies 
in the churches, we resume our reflection and from the 
lapse into despair we rise up to the hope of better things. 
All the Church has been rent asunder, as your Wisdom does 
not fail to realize. And, no doubt ? you see the situation on 
every side as from some lofty watchtower of your mind's 
contemplation, how, just as at sea, when many ships are sail- 
ing together, all at once they are dashed one against another 
by the violence of the waves and there is a shipwreck, partly 
because of the violent stirring up of the sea by an external 
cause, and partly because of the confusion produced by the 
sailors pushing and jostling one another. It suffices with this 
comparison to have done with the subject, since your Wis- 
dom requires nothing more, and the situation permits me no 
freedom of speech. But, who is a capable pilot for these 
troubles? Who is to be trusted to rouse the Lord that He 
may rebuke the wind and sea? 2 Who else than he who from 
childhood bore up bravely in the struggles for religion? 

1 According to Tillemont (note 60), the bishops here referred to are 

probably the Macedonians. This letter was written late in the year 371. 

2 Cf. Luke 8.24. 


Since, therefore, everything about us sound in faith is now 
truly hastening toward communion and union with those of 
the same faith, we have come confidently to request your 
Patience'* to write a circular letter to all of us, advising us 
what we must do. For, they wish you, in this way, to take 
the initiative in their conferences pertaining to communion. 
Since, perhaps, they may appear to you subject to suspicion 
because of your recollection of the past, I wish. Father dearly 
beloved of God, you would do this: Send me the letters for 
the bishops, either through one of the faithful there, or 
through the brother Dorotheus, 4 our fellow deacon. After I 
have received them, I shall not give them out until I have 
the answers from the bishops; if I should fail to do this, I 
will be guilty of sin against thee' all the days of my life. 5 As- 
suredly, this declaration did not warrant more fear in him 
who was speaking of old to his father than it does in me 
who am now speaking to you, my spiritual father. But, if you 
absolutely reject this arrangement, at least free us from blame 
in this duty, since we have come to this embassy and mediation 
without deceit or artifice, only with a desire for peace and 
mutual harmony among us who agree in our beliefs about 
the Lord. 

83. To cm Assessor 1 
My acquaintance and personal contact with your Nobility 

3 AneKikakias used as a title only once by St. Basil. 

4 The deacon employed so frequently by St. Basil as a messenger. 

5 Cf. Gen 43.9. Judah is speaking to his father Jacob. St. Basil has added 
the final words. 

I The assessor, like the censors at Rome, evaluated property and levied 
taxes. These assessors, or censitores, were appointed by the emperor 
for each province or smaller unit of territory. The letter was written in 
the year 372. 


has been exceedingly brief, but my knowledge of you by re- 
pute, through which we are associated with many distinguished 
men, is neither slight nor unworthy of consideration. Now, 
whether you also have heard any chance mention of us, you 
yourself would know better than I. At all events, your repu- 
tation with us is as we have said. But, God has called you 
to an office which offers an occasion for kindness, one through 
which our country, completely beaten to the ground, can be 
restored. Therefore, I think that it is befitting for me to 
solicit your Excellency's attention, so that, hoping for a re- 
ward from God, you may think it worth while so to comport 
yourself, ameliorating the afflictions of the oppressed, as to 
merit an undying remembrance and become an heir of ever- 
lasting rest. 

Now, since I have a certain piece of property around 
Chamanene, I beg you to guard it as your own. And do not 
wonder if I, having been taught friendship along with other 
virtues, and being mindful of him who said that a friend is 
another self, 2 call my friends' possessions my own. Accord- 
ingly, this property which belongs to him I commend to 
your Honor as my own. Furthermore, I urge you, after view- 
ing the hardships of this household, to offer some considera- 
tion for the past, and for the future to make desirable this 
dwelling, which they now shun and abandon because of the 
amount of taxes imposed opon it. I myself will be eager, when 

1 meet your Modesty, to discuss more fully all details. 

2 Pythagoras is supposed to have been the first to give us these words. 
They occur also In Aristotle, Magna. Moralia 2 15 (heteros ego) ; and 
in Cicero, Laehus 21.80 (alter idem) . 


84. To an Official 1 

What I am about to write is almost Incredible, but for the 
sake of truth it shall be written. And this It is that, although 
I had every desire to converse with your Honor as frequently 
as possible, when I found the occasion for this letter I did not 
rush eagerly to avail myself of the unexpected opportunity, 
but hesitated and shrank back. Now, the wonder in this is 
that when the chance for which I had prayed presented itself, 
I did not welcome it. And the reason that I am ashamed 
to write not purely out of friendship, but each time to seek 
remedy for some need. Still, this has occurred to me (and I 
hope that you, taking thought, will believe that we are en- 
gaging in this correspondence not more for the sake of busi- 
ness than out of friendship) that the manner of addressing 
officials should be somewhat different from that of addressing 
private individuals. We do not converse with a physician as 
we would with any chance comer, nor, assuredly, with an 
official as with a private individual, but we must endeavor 
to gain some benefit from the skill of the one and from the in- 
fluence of the other. At all events, as the shadow under all 
circumstances follows those who walk in the sun, whether or 
not they themselves wish it, so also some advantage follows 
association with officials, namely, help for the afflicted. 

Therefore, let the very act of greeting your Lordship ful- 
fill the primary reason for our letter, and this, even if no pre- 
text for writing were at hand, should in itself be considered a 
plausible justification. Accordingly, accept our salutation, 
most noble Sir, and may you be kept safe during all your 
life and pass from office to office, benefitting by your author- 
ity now one and again another. It is not only customary for 

I The official addressed here is probably Elias, Governor of Cappadocia. 
The letter was written in 372. Cf., also, Letters 94 and 96 


me to speak thus, but it Is also your due from those who have 
had ever so little experience of your excellent administration. 
Now, after this prayer, receive also our petition. It is for a 
poor old man whom an imperial decree freed from public 
duties, but to whom, even before the emperor, old age itself 
gave the necessary exemption. And you yourself also confirmed 
this favor from the higher authority through respect, I am 
sure, for nature, and also, as it seems to me, through fore- 
thought for the public good, precluding possible danger to 
the public Interests from a man suffering from senility. How 
is It, then, O admirable Sir, that you have unmindfully 
brought Mm back in another manner into the midst of af- 
fairs? For, since you have commanded his grandson, not yet 
four years old, to take his place ia the Senate, what else is 
this if not dragging the old man out Into public service anew 
In the person of his grandson? We ask you now to have com- 
passion on both, and to release them in consideration of the 
pitiable circumstances attending each. For, the one neither 
saw nor knew his parents, because he was bereaved of both 
from the very cradle and reared by strangers, and the other 
has lived so long a life that he has escaped no form of mis- 
fortune. He beheld the untimely death of his son; he saw his 
house deprived of successors; and now, unless you bethink 
yourself of something worthy of your gentleness, he will see 
this consolation of his childlessness become for him an oc- 
casion of numberless evils. Surely, the boy will not be enrolled 
in the Senate, or levy taxes, or furnish provision money for 
the soldiers, but again the gray hairs of the wretched old 
man necessarily will be put to shame. Therefore, grant the 
favor, both consistent with the laws and in accordance with 
nature, commanding the one to be withdrawn until he has 
reached his majority and the other to be allowed to await 
his death at ease. Let others allege the excuse of continuous 


business and inexorable necessit). Certainly, It is not char- 
acteristic of you, even if the affairs of men press upon you, 
either to disregard those who fare ill, or to take no heed of 
the laws, or to refuse to yield to the appeals of friends. 

85. Concerning the Fact That It Is Unnecessary to Take an 

Oath 1 

We do not cease protesting in every s^nod and urging in 
private conferences this matter that, in the case of public 
taxes, collectors must not exact oaths of farmers. My last re- 
sort is to protest solemnly before God and man by letter con- 
cerning this same subject, that it is your duty to cease bring- 
ing death upon the souls of men, to contrive some other 
methods of exacting payment, and so to allow men to keep 
their souls unharmed. We are writing this to you 5 not on 
the ground that you need a verbal exhortation (for you have 
present with you inducements for fearing the Lord), but in 
order that through you all those who depend on you may 
be taught not to rouse the Holy One to anger, by evil practice 
reducing a forbidden act to a matter of indifference. For, 
men have no benefit at all from the oaths in the matter of 
exactions and they are taking upon their souls an admitted 
evil, since they become practiced in perjury, no longer striv- 
ing to make the payment, but believing that the oath has been 
devised for them as a weapon of deceit and an opportunity 
for delay. 

1 For a further elaboration on the sufferings of the Cappadodans under 
the heavy burden of taxation, cf. Letter 74, One feature of the system 
of taxation was the practice of putting the people under oath as to 
their inability to pay. This taking of oaths the Church condemned. 
The date of this letter is the year 372. 


Should the Lord bring a swift retribution upon the per- 
jurers, the collectors will have none to answer their summons, 
since the fanners will have been destroyed by divine venge- 
ance. And, If the Master In His patience endures (and, as I 
previously said, those who have experienced the forbearance 
of the Lord often despise His goodness), let them not violate 
the law to no purpose, 2 nor provoke the wrath of God against 
themselves. We have said what our duty lays on us; the dis- 
obedient will see to the consequence. 

86. To an Official 1 

I know that the greatest and principal care of your Honor 
is to comply in every way with the demands of justice, and 
the second, to benefit your friends and to exert yourself for 
those who have fled to your Lordship's protection. In this, 
therefore, we are in complete agreement on the present oc- 
casion. Now, the matter for which we are making Intercession 
is just and a favor to us whom you have deigned to count 
among your friends, and Is also the due of those who call on 
your Firmness 2 for assistance In the injuries which they have 

Now, the gram, which was the only thing our most beloved 
brother Dorotheas possessed for the necessary sustenance of 
life, has been seized by some men of Brlsl who were trusted 
to administer public affairs. Whether they used violence of 
themselves or were enjoined by others to do so, they are in 
no way blameless In the affair. For, why does he who is wick- 

2 I.e., they will not escape their taxes even if they swear to their inability 

to pay them. 

1 This letter was written in the same year as the preceding. 

2 Stendtlta a title of address used by St. Basil for laymen only. 


ed of himself do less wrong than he who serves for the wick- 
edness of others? For those who suffer, the harm done is the 
same. We ask that this man receive again his grain from those 
who robbed him, and that they be not allowed to blame others 
for their brash deeds. And we shall esteem the favor from 
your Excellency, if you will be so kind as to grant it, as highly 
as if we were escaping the hardship of famine. 

87. Without Address, concerning the Same Subject 1 

I am astonished that, when you were acting as mediator, 
so much wrong was perpetrated against our fellow presbyter 2 
that he was despoiled of the only means of livelihood that 
he possessed. And the most terrible part of it is that they 
who dared to do this laid the responsibility for what they had 
done upon you, whose duty it even was, far from permitting 
such a thing to happen, to prevent it with all your strength 
in the case of all men; certainly, if not all, at least in the 
case of our presbyters and of those who are of the same mind 
with us and are proceeding along the same road of piety. 
Therefore, if you have any care to relieve us, see that the 
things which have been done are set right. For, you are able, 
with the help of God, to correct both these matters and still 
greater for whomever you may wish. I have written also to 
the governor of the country in order that, if they are not will- 
ing to do right of themselves, they may be compelled to do 
so by the action of the courts. 

1 On the same subject and of the same date as the preceding letter. 

2 Dorotheas. 


88. Without Address, for a Tax-Collector 1 

Your Honor, more than all others, knows the difficulty of 
collecting gold furnished by contribution. 2 Moreover, we have 
no better witness of our poverty than you, who in your re- 
markable kindness have both sympathized with us and up to 
the present shown all possible indulgence, at no time having 
altered the gentleness of your manners because of the agitating 
urgency of those in high authority. Therefore, since a little 
of the gold is still lacking from the whole account, and this 
must be collected from the contribution to which we urged 
the whole city, we ask your Clemency to prolong the ap- 
pointed time a little for us, so that those also who are out- 
side the city may be reminded. The majority of the magis- 
trates are in the country, as you yourself are not unaware. So, 
then, if the contribution could be sent incomplete by just as 
many pounds as, in fact, are lacking, we entreat you let this 
be done. The remainder will then be sent later. However, 
if it is absolutely necessary that the whole amount be sent 
in one payment to the treasury, we ask, as we did at the be- 
ginning, that the appointed time be extended. 

1 Another letter concerning the collection of taxes in the same year as 
the preceding. 

2 The Benedictine editors explain chrysion pragmateutikon as the gold 
collected for the purpose of providing equipment for the troops, ac- 
cording to Gothofredus on Cod. Theol. 7.6.3. With the exception of 
Osroene and Isauria, all the provinces of the East contributed gold in- 
stead of actual equipment. A law by Valens on this subject specifies 
that the gold must be paid between September 1 and April 1. Since St. 
Basil is attempting to secure an extension, this letter may be dated 
shortly before April I, 


89. To Meletius, Bishop of Antioch 1 

The good God, in providing us with occasions for friendly 
greetings to your Honor, soothes the intensity of our long- 
ing. He Himself is witness of the desire which we have to see 
you personally and to enjoy your excellent and soul-profiting 
instruction. And now, through our fellow deacon, the most 
pious and zealous brother Dorotheus, 2 who is going to you, 
we beseech you in the first place to pray for us, that we may 
not become an obstacle to the people, nor a hindrance to your 
prayers of supplication to the Lord. Next, we also suggest that 
you deign to give directions through the brother just men- 
tioned. Moreover, if there is any need of writing to our breth- 
ren in the West, do you yourself dictate the letter, which 
ought, of necessity, be carried to them by one of our men. For, 
since we have met Sabinus, the deacon they sent, we have writ- 
ten to the Illyrian bishops and to the bishops throughout 
Italy and Gaul, and also to some of those who wrote per- 
sonally to us. Furthermore, it would be well advised for some 
one to be sent as from a general synod carrying a second let- 
ter; do you yourself have it written. 

1 For Meletius, Bishop of Antioch, cf. Letters 57 and 68. This letter was 
written before Easter, 372. 

2 Dorotheus was a deacon of the Church of Antioch and of the com. 
mu n ion of Meletius. St. Basil had used him the year before to carry 
two letters to St Athanasius, asking him to use his influence with the 
bishops of the West so that they would intervene and heal the schism 
of the Church in Antioch by uniting all under Meletius. Cf. Letters 
48, 50, and 52. Toward the end of the same year, St. Basil again sent 
Dorotheus to St, Athanasius with letters for Pope Bamasus and the 
Western bishops, asking for assistance in uniting the East. Cf. Letter 
52. Dorotheus spent the winter in Italy but was unable to accomplish 
any good. He returned in 372 with letters from Pope Damasus to St. 
Basil and St. Athanasius which testified to their unity of faith. Cf. 
Letters 61, 62, and 273. St. Basil is now sending Dorotheus to Meletius 
requesting him to draw up more urgent letters to the bishops of the 


Now, concerning the most revered Bishop Athanasius, we 
are reminding your distinguished Wisdom, although you are 
accurately aware of it, how Impossible it Is to further or to 
accomplish anything which should be done by letters from 
me alone, unless in some manner he receives Communion 
from you who formerly deferred It. In fact, he himself Is 
said to be exceedingly eager for union with us and to be using 
all his power to bring it about, yet to be grieved because he 
was sent away at that time without Communion and because 
the promises still remain unfulfilled. 3 

How these facts are regarded In the East has most certainly 
not escaped the ears of your Reverence, all of which the 
brother mentioned above will himself relate more in detail. 
Be so kind as to send him out immediately after Easter, be- 
cause he is waiting for the decisions from Samosata. Also 
commend his good will and send him forth to the appointed 
tasks strengthened by your prayers. 

90. To the Most Holy Brothers and Bishops of the West 1 

The good God, who always joins consolations to afflictions, 
has even now In the midst of our many distresses let us find 
some degree of comfort from the letters which our most hon- 
orable father, Bishop Athanasius, received from your Recti- 
tude and which he sent on to us. They are a testimony of 
sound faith and give proof of your inviolable harmony and 

3 Tillemont contends that it is not the great St. Athanasius that is re- 
ferred to here, since Meletius would not dare refuse him Communion. 
However, Maran (Vita BasiUi xxii) shows that the circumstances fit 
in and also that the statement of Meletius' refusal is borne out by the 
Letter 258.3. St. Athanasius himself was so far committed to the other 
side in the Antiochene dispute that he could not recognize Meletius. 


union, making clear that the shepherds are following in the 
footsteps of the Fathers and tending the people of the Lord 
with understanding. All these facts have gladdened us to such 
an extent as to relieve our dejection and to produce In our 
souls a brief smile, as it were, in the gloom of affairs in which 
we are now situated. 

Moreover, the Lord has increased our consolation through 
our son, the most pious fellow deacon, Sabinus, who nourished 
our souls by his accurate relation of your goodly condition 
and who, having learned by actual observation, will also clear- 
ly report to you the state of our affairs. This he will do in 
order, primarily, that you may aid us in our struggle by your 
earnest and persevering prayer to the Lord, and secondly, 
that you may not refuse to bring to the afflicted churches all 
possible consolation. Affairs here are in a distressing condi- 
tion, most honorable brothers. The Church, like a boat in the 
midst of the sea racked by the continuous blows of the waves, 
has been reduced to utter exhaustion by the incessant attacks 
of her opponents, unless there should be some speedy visita- 
tion of the goodness of the Lord. Therefore, just as we esteem 
as a personal blessing your mutual agreement and union, so 
also we beg you to compassionate us in our dissensions, and 
not, because we are separated by the situation of our countries, 
to sever us from yourselves, but since we are united in the 
communion of the Spirit, to admit us to the harmonious union 
of one body. 

Our afflictions are well known, even if we do not recount 
them; they have already been sounded forth through the 
whole world. The doctrines of the Fathers are despised; the 
traditions of the Apostles are set at nought; the crafty inven- 
tions of innovators are introduced in the churches; men now 
are skillful masters of words, and not theologians; the wisdom 


of the world takes first place, the glory of the cross having 
been thrust aside. The shepherds are driven out, and in their 
places fierce wolves are brought in, who tear asunder the flock 
of Christ. The houses of prayer are destitute of those who 
assembled there; the deserts, full of lamenting people. The 
older men grieve, comparing their former state with the pres- 
ent; the young are more to be pitied, being unaware of 
their deprivation. 

These facts are sufficient to rouse the sympathy of those who 
have been taught the love of Christ, but, compared with 
the true state of affairs, my words fall far short of depicting 
reality. If, therefore, there is any consolation of love, any 
communion of the Spirit, if there are any feelings of pity, 
bestir yourselves to come to our relief. Employ zeal in the 
pursuit of piety, deliver us from this storm. And let that 
blessed dogma' 2 'of the Fathers be spoken fearlessly among us, 
that dogma which confounds the hateful heresy of Anus and 
builds up the churches on the sound doctrine in which the 
Son is acknowledged to be consubstantial with the Father, 
and the Holy Spirit is numbered with Them and adored with 
equal honor, in order that that fearlessness In defense of the 
truth which the Lord gave to you, and that glory in the con- 
fession of the divine and saving Trinity, may also through your 
prayers and your co-operation be bestowed upon us. But, the 
particulars the deacon mentioned above will announce to your 
Charity. Moreover, we are in agreement with everything that 
has been done canonically by your Honor, and heartily ap- 
prove of your apostolic zeal for orthodoxy. 

1 Newman considers this plea for help and also Letter 92 to be closely 
connected with Letter 70, which appears to have been addressed to 
Pope Daraasus. It was written before Easter, 372. 

2 St. Basil, contrary to the present usage, generally employs the word 
kerygma for a dogma o the Church, and calls ddgmata the doctrines 
and practices privately sanctioned in the Church. 


91. To Valerian, Bishop of the Illyrians 1 

Thanks be to the Lord who permitted us to see in your 
Purity 2 the fruit of pristine 3 love. Although separated from us 
in the flesh by such a great distance, you have united yourself 
with us by letters, and by embracing us with your spiritual and 
holy love you have engendered in our souls an unspeakably 
great affection. In fact, we have learned by experience the 
force of the proverb: 'As cold water to a thirsty soul, so is 
good tidings from a far country. 54 

For, the famine of love among us, honorable brother, Is 
terrible. And the cause is easily seen, 'because Iniquity has 
abounded, the charity of the many has grown cold.' 5 For this 
reason your letter is very dear to us, and we are answering you 
through the same messenger, our most pious fellow deacon 
and brother, Sabinus. Through him we are making ourselves 
known to you, and we entreat you to be mindful of us in 
your prayers, that the holy God may give tranquillity and 
peace to our affairs and rebuke this wind and sea. Thus we 
shall be freed from the tossing and turmoil in which we now 
are, continually expecting to be completely plunged into the 

1 St. Valerian, Bishop of Aquileia, is first mentioned as being present at 
the Council of Rome in 371. Cf. Theodoret, H. E. 2.17. He presided 
at a council held in 381 at Aquileia against the Arian bishops, Palla- 
dius and Secundinus, at which St. Ambrose was leader of the Catholics. 
He was also at the Council of Rome in 382. Cf. THeodoret, H. E. 5.9. 
The date of his death is uncertain He is commemorated on Nov. 27. 
Under his rule there grew up in Aquileia that group of people whom 
St. Jerome calls in his chronicle (378) 'a company of the blessed/ and 
of whom he was one. Dorotheus or Sabinus had brought letters from 
St. Athanasius, and Sabinus one from Valerian. St. Basil is here 
taking the opportunity to reply. This letter was written in 372. 

2 Kathardtetiz title of address used only this once by St. Basil. 

3 I.e., an exemplification of Christian love as taught in the early Church. 

4 Cf. Prov. 25.25. 

5 Cf. Matt. 24.12. 


But, this favor the Lord has graciously granted us at the 
present the hearing that you are In strict agreement and 
union with one another, and that the dogma of true religion 
is proclaimed among you without hindrance. For at some time 
(if, Indeed, the time of this world Is not yet ended but some 
days of human life still remain) there will be need for you to 
renew the faith In the East, and to render to it in due mea- 
sure a return for those blessings which you received from it. 
In fact, the sound among us and those who claim the true 
religion of the Fathers are sufficiently wearied, since the Devil 
in his wiliness has violently disturbed them by the many and 
varied assaults of his subtleties. But, by the prayers of you 
who love the Lord, may the wicked heresy which misleads 
the people, the false doctrine of Arius, be extinguished. And 
may the good doctrine of our Fathers, who assembled at 
Nicaea, blaze forth, so that the doxology in harmony with 
the words of saving baptism may be accorded to the Blessed 

92. To the Bishops of Italy and Gaul 1 

To our most dearly beloved of God and most holy 2 brethren 
ancl fellow ministers in Italy and Gaul, bishops of like belief 
with us, we, Meletlus, 3 Eusebius, 4 Basil, 5 Bassus, 6 Gregory, 7 

1 An appeal to the Western bishops to assist in driving out heresy and 
establishing peace in the Eastern Church, written in 372. 

2 Hosiotdtois a title of distinction applied by St. Basil only to the clergy. 

3 Of Antioch. 

4 Of Samosata. 

5 Of Caesarea. 

6 Tillemont (Basil, note 52) suggests Barses of Edessa. 

7 The elder, of Nazianzus. 


Pelagius, 8 Paul, Anthlmus, 9 Theodotus/ Vitus, 11 Abraham, 12 
Jobinus, 13 Zeno, 14 Theodoretus, Marcianus, Barachus, Abra- 
ham, 15 Libanius, Thalassius, Joseph, Boethus, latrius, 16 The- 
odotus, Eustathius, 17 Barsumas, John, Chosroes, losaces, 18 
Narses, Maris, Gregory, 19 and Daphnus, send greetings in 
the Lord. 

Even a groan drawn forth repeatedly from the depth of 
the heart brings some relief to distressed souls, and perhaps, 
also, a tear trickling down has dispelled the greater part of an 
affliction. However, the telling of our sufferings to your 
Charity does not offer us a relief only as a sigh or a tear do, 
but comforts us with a somewhat happier hope that, perhaps, 
If we should make known to you our sorrows, we might rouse 
you to come to our assistance. We have, in truth, long ex- 
pected that you would bring this succor to the churches in 
the East, but we have not yet obtained it no doubt, because 
God, who in His wisdom administers our affairs according 
to the inscrutable judgments of His justice, has ordained 
that we should suffer these trials for a still longer time. Now, 
surely, you have not been ignorant of the state of our affairs, 
most honorable brethren, since the report of it has gone forth 
to the uttermost parts of the world; nor are you without 
sympathy, as I think, toward your brethren who hold the 

8 Of Laodicea. 

9 Of Tyana. 

10 Of Nicopolis. 

11 Of Carrhae. 

12 Of Batnae. 

13 Of Perrha. 

14 Of Tyre. 

15 Of Urimi in Syria. 

16 Maran would read Otreius of Melitine for latrius. 

17 Of Sebasteia. 

18 Maran would read Isaaces, identifying him with Isacoces of Armenia 

19 Probably Gregory of Nyssa, lately consecrated. 


same belief with you, since you are disciples of the Apostle 20 
who teaches that the fulfillment of the law is love toward 
one's neighbor. But, as we have said, the just judgment of 
God, wMch measures out to us for fulfillment the suffering 
appointed for our sins, has checked your interest. However, 
through your zeal for the truth and your sympathetic feelings 
for us, we urge you, now at least, to let yourselves be roused, 
when from the most pious brother, our fellow deacon, Sa- 
binus, you have learned all, even what escaped your ears 
before. He will be able personally to relate to you whatever 
is wanting in our letter. Through him we urge you to clothe 
yourselves with feelings of pity, and putting aside all hesita- 
tion, to take up the labor of love and also not to consider 
either the length of the journey or business at home or any 
human concerns. 

For, it is not a question of danger concerning only one 
church; nor are there two or three churches which have fallen 
in this bitter storm. In fact, the evil of heresy is spread al- 
most from the mountains of Illyricum to the Thebaid. Its 
pernicious seeds were formerly sown by the detestable Arms, 
and, having taken deep root because of the many who in the 
meantime diligently cultivated the impiety, they have now 
produced their destructive fruit. For, the doctrines of true 
religion have been overthrown and the laws of the Church 
have been made void. A lust for power in men who do not 
fear the Lord infests the posts of authority, and now the first 
place is openly offered as the prize for impiety, so that he who 
has uttered the most grievous blasphemies is considered more 
deserving of the office of bishop of the people. Gone is the 
dignity of priesthood. They who tended the flock of the Lord 
with understanding have left, while those lusting for power 
waste the revenues of the poor on their personal pleasures 

20 Cf. Rom. 13.10. 


and in the distribution of gifts. Strict observance of the 
canons has been weakened. License to commit sin Is wide- 
spread, for they who have come into power through the 
patronage of men return the favor of these good offices in 
this very manner by affording every occasion for pleasure 
to sinners. Righteous judgment has perished. Each one pro- 
ceeds according to the desire of his heart. Wickedness is 
unmeasured; the people are dead to admonition; their 
leaders are without freedom of speech. For, they who have 
obtained power for themselves through other men are the 
slaves of those who have bestowed the favor. And already, 
forsooth, the 'defense of sound doctrine' has been invented 
by some as a weapon in the war against one another; and, 
dissembling their personal hatreds, they pretend that they 
hate for the sake of true religion. Others, to evade dis- 
honor for most shameful crimes, enkindle the people to strife 
against one another in order that they may shroud their own 
actions in public evils. 

Therefore, this war is truceless, because they who have done 
the evil mistrust general peace lest it uncover their shameful 
secrets. At these conditions the unbelievers laugh; those of 
little faith waver; faith is uncertain; ignorance envelops souls, 
because those who maliciously corrupt the doctrine imitate 
the truth. The mouths of the pious are hushed, but every 
blasphemous tongue is loosed. Sacred things are profaned; 
the people who are sound in faith flee the houses of prayer 
as schools of impiety, and throughout the deserts they raise 
their hands to the Lord in heaven with groans and tears. 
However, that which has happened in most of the cities has 
assuredly been relayed even to you that the people with 
their wives and children and with even their aged ones pour 
out before the walls of the cities and offer their prayers in 


the open, enduring all the Inclemencies of the weather with 
much patience, waiting for help from the Lord. 

What lamentation is adequate to describe these misfor- 
tunes? What fountains of tears will suffice to wash away such 
evils? Therefore, while some still seem to stand, while still a 
trace of our former condition is preserved, before utter ship- 
wreck comes upon the churches, hasten to us. Hasten at once, 
we earnestly beg, most true 21 brothers; stretch out your hand 
to us who have fallen to our knees. Let your brotherly af- 
fection be stirred in our behalf; let your tears of sympathy 
be poured forth. Do not allow half of the world to be swal- 
lowed up by the error. Do not permit that faith to be ex- 
tinguished in those among whom it first shone forth. 

Now, by what means you will give help in our troubles 
and how you will show sympathy to the afflicted, you will 
certainly not need to leam from us, but from the Holy Spirit 
Himself who will suggest it to you. Only, there Is need of 
haste to save those who still remain, and of the presence of 
more brethren so that those coming here may make up the 
full number of a synod, to the end that they may have the 
prestige to set matters right not only because of the dignity of 
those sending them, but also from their own number; and 
that they may restore the creed written in Nicaea by our 
Fathers, banish the heresy by proclamation, and discuss with 
the churches matters pertaining to peace, bringing together 
into harmony those who are of the same belief. For this, 
surely, of all things is the most deserving of pity, that even 
that part which appears to be sound is divided against itself, 
and that there surround us, as it seems, calamities like those 
which formerly encompassed Jerusalem during the siege of 
Vespasian. They were at the same time oppressed by war from 
without and spent by the dissension of their own people with- 

21 Gnesiotatoi a title of distinction applied by St Basil to the clergy. 


in. And in our case, in addition to the open war of the heretics, 
still another that has sprung up among those who seem to be 
orthodox has reduced the churches to the lowest state of weak- 
ness. On this account, we especially need help from you, in 
order that those professing the faith of the Apostles, after 
putting an end to the schisms which they devised, may be- 
come subject for the future to the authority of the Church, 
so that the body of Christ being restored to soundness in all 
its members may be made perfect, and that we may not 
only rejoice over the blessings of others, as we now do, but 
may also behold our own churches regaining the ancient glory 
of orthodoxy. For, truly, it is deserving of the highest praise 
that the Lord has bestowed upon your Reverence the power 
to distinguish the spurious from the approved and pure, and 
to proclaim the faith of the Fathers with no evasion. This 
faith we also received and we recognized it from the apostol- 
ic qualities by which it was stamped, and we assented both 
to it and to all the doctrines canonically and lawfully taught 
in the synodical letter. 22 

22 For this synodical letter, cf. Theodoret 1.8 and Socrates 1.9. The 
Benedictine editors are surprized that St. Basil shows agreement with 
this synodical letter, since it defines the Son as tes antes hypostdseos 
kai ttsias (of the same essence and substance) . It is, however, not in the 
synodical letter, but in the anathemas originally appended to the 
creed, that it is denied that He is of a different substance or essence. 
Even here it is not said positively that He is of the same substance or 
essence. For a discussion of these theological terms, cf. Letters 8 and 
38, with notes. 


93. To the Patrician Caesaria, about Communion 1 

Now, to receive Communion daily, thus to partake of the 
holy Body and Blood of Christ, is an excellent and advan- 
tageous practice; for Christ Himself says clearly: 'He who 
eats my flesh and drinks my blood has life everlasting/ 2 Who 
doubts that to share continually in the life is nothing else than 
to have a manifold life? We ourselves, of course, receive 
Communion four times a week, on Sundays, Wednesdays, 
Fridays, and Saturdays; 3 also on other days, if there is a com- 
memoration of some saint. 

As to the question concerning a person being compelled to 
receive Communion by his own hand in times of persecution^ 
when there is no priest or minister present, it is superfluous 
to show that the act is in no way offensive, since long-con- 
tinued custom has confirmed this practice because of the 
circumstances themselves. In fact, all the monks in the soli- 
tudes, where there is no priest, preserve Communion in their 
house and receive it from their own hands. In Akxandria 
and in Egypt, each person, even of those belonging to the 
laity, has Communion in his own home, and, when he wishes, 
he receives with his own hand. For, when the priest has once 
and for all completed the sacrifice and has given Communion, 
he who has once received it as a whole, when he partakes of 
it daily, ought reasonably to believe that he is partaking and 

1 Tillemont (Basil, note 34) says that Arnaud does not consider that 
this letter is St. Basil's, but he gives no reason for his opinion. Tille- 
mont himself thinks that it is only a portion of a letter, but sees no 
reason for rejecting its authenticity. Its manuscript tradition is poor, 
but does not offer sufficient cause for doubting its authorship. It was 
probably written in 372. 

2 John 6.55. 

3 The Greek meanings are literally: Lord's Day, the Fourth, Preparation, 
and Sabbath. 


receiving from him who has given It. Even In the church the 
priest gives the particle, and the recipient holds It completely 
in his power and so brings it into his mouth with his own 
hand. Accordingly, it is virtually the same whether he receives 
one particle from the priest or many particles at one time. 4 

94. To Elias, Governor of the Province 1 

I have been especially eager to approach your Honor my- 
self, lest, because of my failure to appear, I should have less 
advantage than they who are slandering me. But, since the 
infirmity of my body has prevented me, afflicting me much 
more severely than usual, I have, of necessity, resorted to 
writing. Accordingly, O admirable Sir, when recently I met 
your Honor I was desirous of communicating with your Wis- 
dom concerning all my temporal affairs, and I also wished 
to have some conversation in behalf of the churches, in order 

4 Cf. Catholic Encyclopaedia, under 'Eucharist.' In general, it is by divine 
and ecclesiastical right that the laity should as a rale receive Com- 
munion only from the consecrated hand of the priest. Cf. Trent. Sess. 
13, cap. 8. The practice of the laity giving themselves Communion was 
formerly, and is today, allowed only in case of necessity. In early Chris- 
tian times it was customary for the faithful to take the Blessed Sacra- 
ment to their homes and communicate privately, a custom to which 
St. Basil refers above. Cf. also Justin, Martyr, ApoL 1.85; Tertullian, 
De. oral. 19 and Ad uxor. 2.5: Cyprian, l>e lapsis 132; and Jerome, 
Letter 125. Up to the ninth century is was usual for the priest to place 
the Sacred Host in the right hand of the recipient, who kissed it and 
then placed it in his own mouth. Women from the fourth to the ninth 
centuries were required to have a cloth wrapped about their right hand 
in this ceremony. 

I For Elias, Governor of Cappadocia, cf. Letters 84 and 96, St. Basil is 
here defending himself from the slanders directed against him by 
enemies because of the church and hospital which he had recently built 
in the suburbs of Caesarea. Cf. Greg. Naz., Oratio 20; Theodoret, EccL 
Hist. 4.19; and Sozomen, 6.34. The letter was written in 372, at the 
departure of Valens. 


that, henceforth, no occasion might be left for slanders. But, 

1 restrained myself, considering that it was an altogether med- 
dlesome act and ambitious beyond measure to impose un- 
necessary cares upon a man already burdened with such a 
mass of business. And at the same time for the truth will 
be told I hesitated especially, lest we should ever be forced 
by disputes with each other to wound your soul, which ought 
in its pure piety toward God to reap a perfect reward for its 
religious service. For, truly, if we shall turn your attention to 
ourselves, we shall leave you little leisure for the public affairs, 
and we shall be doing very nearly the same as one who would 
weigh down with additional freight the pilot who is guiding 
a newly built ship in the midst of mighty waves. There is need, 
rather, to remove some of the cargo and to lighten the load as 
much as possible. For this reason, it seems to me, our great 
emperor, when he learned of our bustling activity, allowed us 
to govern the churches by ourselves. 

Nevertheless, I wish that those annoying your honest ears 
be asked what harm the state suffers from us, or whether 
public interests either little or great have suffered loss be- 
cause of our administration of the churches unless someone 
might say that it brings harm to state affairs to raise up to 
our God a magnificently constructed house of prayer, and 
around it a dwelling, a stately residence reserved for the bishop 
and inferior quarters assigned to the servants of God ac- 
cording to rank. Moreover, the use of these is free to you, the 
officials, and to your followers. And whom do we wrong by 
building inns for guests, both those visiting us on their journey 
and those needing some treatment in their illness, and by ap- 
pointing for them the necessary comforts nurses, doctors, 
beasts of burden, and escorts? 2 It was necessary also for oc- 

2 At this time, the clergy acted as guides and escorts. Cf. Letters 98 and 


cupatlons to follow In the wake of these, both those indispen- 
sable for support, and such as were devised for a more respec- 
table manner of living. Again, other buildings suitable for 
these occupations had to be erected, and all of these are an 
ornament to the place and a source of pride to our governor, 
since words of praise redound upon him. Certainly, not on 
this account were you forced to direct your attention to us 
because you are able alone by the might of your intellect to 
restore works which have fallen into ruin, to people the un- 
inhabited spaces, and, in short, to transform solitudes into 
cities. Therefore, was it more consistent to drive out and to 
insult him who is co-operating in these matters, or to honor 
and respect him? And do not think, most noble Sir, that our 
part consists only in words, for we are already engaged in the 
work itself, having in the meantime helped to procure the 

So much, then, for my defense before the governor. But 
the answer in reply to the censures of fault-finders, which 
should be given to a Christian and a friend who is concerned 
for our reputation, must now be left unsaid on the ground 
that it is both too long for the limits of a letter and, especially, 
that it is not safely to be entrusted to lifeless writing. But, 
in order that you may not, during the time before our meeting, 
be led on by the slanders of certain men and forced to relin- 
quish any of your good will toward us, act as Alexander did. 
It is said that he, when one of his friends was being slandered, 
offered one ear to the slanderer, but carefully stopped the 
other with his hand, showing that he who intends to judge 
rightly must not be at once completely carried away by those 
coming first, but must keep half of his hearing unprejudiced 
for the defense of the absent one. 3 

3 Cf, Letter 24 for this story about Alexander. 


95. To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosala 1 

Although I had long since written to your Reverence about 
other matters, and especially concerning our meeting with 
each other, I was utterly disappointed in my expectation, 
since the letter did not reach your Honor's hands. The blessed 
deacon, Theophrastus, 2 who had taken the letter at a time 
when we were obliged to set out on certain visits, did not 
send it on to your Reverence, being prevented by the illness 
from which he died. This accounts for my writing too late 
to expect that there will be any advantage from this letter, 
because so little time remains. For Meletius and Theodotus, 3 
bishops dearly beloved of God, bade us come to visit them, 
considering our conference proof of our love, and desiring 
that some correction of matters now annoying them be ef- 
fected. They also appointed for us the time for the conference, 
the middle of the coming month of June, and the place, 
Phargamos, a spot famous for the renown of its martyrs as 
well as for the full attendance at the synod held there each 
year. But, when I learned, on my return, of the death of the 
blessed deacon and that the letters from us were lying un- 
delivered, it was necessary for me not to be idle, since there 
still remained for us only thirty-three days until that appoint- 
ed time. Therefore, with all haste I am sending this letter 
to the most revered brother Eustathius, our fellow minister, 
so that through him it may be conveyed to your Dignity and 
the answer speedily brought back to us. For, if it is possible, 
or at all satisfactory for you to attend, we also shall be pres- 

1 Another letter to Eusebius, written in May, 372. 

2 Probably the bearer of a letter to Meletius from St. Basil in 371. Cf. 
Letter 57. 

3 Theodotus of Nicopolis was disturbed about St. Basil's being in com- 
munion with Eustathius. On Meletius, Bishop of Antioch, cf. Letters 
57, 68, 89, 120, 129, 216, and notes. 


ent; if not, we ourselves, God willing, shall pay last year's 
debt of a meeting with you, unless, because of our sins, some 
obstacle again comes in our way; in which case we shall 
defer the meeting of the bishops until another time. 

96. To the Master Sophronius 1 

Who is as devoted to his city, honoring even as he does 
his parents the land which bore and nurtured him, as you 
yourself are, you who pray for blessings for the whole city in 
general and for each person individually, and not only pray, 
but also confirm your prayers through your personal efforts? 
Certainly, it is by the grace of God that you are able to do 
such things, and may you retain this power for a very long 
time indeed, since you are so very kind. 

Nevertheless, our country became rich drowsing under your 
protection, because it had a man entrusted with its care whose 
like they who know the conditions existing among us from 
the earliest times said had never before mounted the gover- 
nor's chair. But, it has been suddenly deprived of him through 
the malice of some men who made the man's frankness and 
inaccessibility to flattery an occasion for hostility toward him, 
and who secretly invented slanders against him for the ears 
of your Perfection. Therefore, all of us, the whole mass of 
the people, are downcast, suffering the loss of a governor, the 
only one able to lift up our city which has already fallen to 
her knees, a true guardian of justice, a man easy of access for 
the wronged, dreaded by the lawless, equally just to the poor 
and rich, and, greatest of all, one restoring Christianity to its 
former honor. For, the fact that he is the most incorruptible 

1 For Sophronius, cf. Letter 32 n. 1. Cf. also Letters 84 and 94, which St. 
Basil wrote to Elias. This letter was written In 372. 


of all men whom we know, and that he does not bestow favors 
on anyone in violation of justice, we pass by, as being less 
important in comparison with the other virtues of the man. 
We are, in truth, testifying to these things too late, like 
men who sing a dirge to console themselves, but do nothing 
useful in their troubles. Only this is not useless that the re- 
collection of the man be stored up in your great mind, and 
that you be grateful to him as to a benefactor of the country 
which bore you. Moreover, if anyone of those who are em- 
bittered because the just man was preferred should attack 
Mm, it is not useless to fight in, Ms defense and to succor him, 
making it evident to all that you consider the man a friend 
of yours, regarding as sufficient grounds for friendship the ex- 
cellent testimony concerning him and also the experience of 
Ms performance, which is not according to the pattern of the 
times, since matters which would not have been accomplished 
in many years by another were set right by him in a short 
time. It will also be an enduring favor for us and a consola- 
tion for what has happened, if you will recommend Mm to 
the emperor and refute the slanders brought against Mm. 
Believe that your whole fatherland addresses these words to 
you through our one voice and that it is the common prayer 
of all that through your Perfection justice may be done to 
the man. 

97. To the Senate of Tyana 1 

The Lord who reveals the depths and makes manifest the 
counsels of hearts has also given to the lowly comprehension 
of artifices difficult, as some think, to understand. Therefore, 

1 The dismay and dejection of Caesarea at this time is vividly depicted 
by St. Basil in Letters 74, 75, and 76. 


nothing has escaped us; nor is anything which has been done 
still hidden. Nevertheless, we ourselves neither see nor hear 
anything, except the peace of God and what leads to it. For, 
even if others are powerful and great and self-reliant, we are 
nothing and of no worth. Consequently, we would never attrib- 
ute so much to ourselves as to think that we, single-handed, 
could succeed in our difficulties, knowing well that we need the 
help of each one of our brethren more than one hand needs 
the other. Then, too, the Lord has taught us the necessity 
of unity of action from the very construction of our bodies. 
For, when I reflect upon these our limbs, that not one of them 
is sufficient in itself for activity, how shall I consider that I 
alone am strong enough to combat the troubles of life? In 
fact, neither could one foot move safely forward unless the 
other helped to support it, nor could the eye see clearly if 
it did not have the other as its partner, and if it did not, in 
harmony with it, cast its glance upon the objects to be seen. 
The hearing is more accurate when it receives the sound 
through both channels; the grasp is stronger through the co- 
operation of the fingers. And, in general, I see that none of 
the actions performed either naturally or by inclination is 
accomplished without the agreement of kindred forces, since 
even prayer itself which does not come from persons praying 
together is much feebler, the Lord having declared that He 
will be in the midst if two or three call upon Him with one- 
ness of mind. 2 The Lord even undertook the Incarnation in 
order that through the blood of His cross He might be a 
peacemaker both on earth and in heaven. 

As a result, because of all these things, we pray that our 
remaining days may be spent in peace, and we beg that our 
death may be in peace. For the sake of this peace, therefore, 
I have determined to leave no labor whatsoever undone, to 

2 Cf. Matt. 18.20. 


omit nothing as too humble to say or to do, to take no account 
of the length of journeys, and to shrink from no other irksome 
trials, so that I may meet with the reward of the peacemaker. 
And if anyone follows us as we point out this way, that is 
excellent, and my prayer attains its end; but, if he draws 
away to the opposition, I shall not, in consequence, with- 
draw from my decision. But, each one himself on the day of 
retribution will recognize the fruits of his own labors. 

98. To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 1 

Although I was exceedingly eager to go to Nicopolis, after 
receiving the letter from your Holiness containing your re- 
fusal to go, I gave up my desire, at the same time recalling 
all my infirmities. Moreover, I realized the perfunctory man- 
ner of those inviting me, giving us a cursory invitation through 
the most revered brother Hellenius, 2 the assessor of Nazian- 
zus, and not deigning to send a second messenger to remind 
us of these same matters or to escort us on the road. At all 
events, since our sins have made us an object of suspicion to 
them, we feared lest, perhaps, we might cloud the brightness 
of the festival for them by our presence. Now, with your Ex- 
cellency we do not hesitate to strip ourselves for great strug- 
gles, but without you we are unequal to the task of facing 
even trifling afflictions. Since our discussion with them was to 
be on ecclesiastical matters, we have, therefore, let the time 

1 This letter was written, according to Loofs (op. cit, 25) , at Sebaste in 
the middle of June, 372. 

2 A surveyor of customs at Nazianzus and a confidential friend of St. 
Basil and St. Gregory of Nazianzus. He was an Armenian and had a 
brother who, like himself, had acquired a reputation for eloquence. In 
371 Hellenius had conveyed a letter from St. Gregory to St. Basil; cf. 
St. Basil, Letter 71. 



of the festival pass, and deferred the conference until a period 
of quiet and tranquillity. We have also resolved to go to 
Nicopolis to talk over the needs of the churches with Bishop 
Meletius, 3 dearly beloved of God, if he should refuse the 
journey to Samosata. But, if he should not refuse to go, we 
shall accompany him, if this fact is made clear to us by both of 
you by him in his answer to us concerning these matters 
(for we have written), and by your Reverence. 

We were intending to hold a meeting with the bishops from 
Cappadocia Secunda, but, since they had been given the 
name of another province, 4 they suddenly believed that they 
had become of a different nation and race from us. They 
ignored us as completely as those who have had no acquaint- 
ance with us at all, and have never come to speak with us. 
Likewise, a second interview with the most revered Bishop 
Eustathius was expected, and this we have had. For, since 
many were crying out against him on the ground that he was 
in some way perverting the faith, we held a conference with 
him, and we found, with the help of God, that he was pru- 
dently consistent with the true faith in its entirety. The letters 
of the bishops were not carried to your Honor through the 
fault of those very persons who ought to have transmitted 
ours, but the fact, being driven out of my mind by my con- 
tinual worries, escaped my notice. 

I wanted my brother Gregory 5 to govern a church com- 
mensurate with his natural ability. This meant the whole 
Church under the sun gathered into one. But, since this is 
Impossible, let him be a bishop, not exalted by the place, but 
himself exalting the place. For, it is truly characteristic of 

3 For Meletius, cf. Letters 57, 68, 89, 120, 129, and 216. 

4 Cf. preceding letter and note. 

5 According to Tillemont, this reference is to St. Basil's own brother, St. 
Gregory of Nyssa. Maran, however, thinks that St. Basil is referring to 
St. Gregory of Nazianzus. 


a great man not only to suffice for great things but also by 
his own power to make little things great. 

Now, what must be done about Palmatius, 6 who, even 
after so many admonitions from the brethren, is still serving 
Maximus 7 in the persecutions? But, in spite of all, they do not 
even now hesitate to write to him; for they are not permitted 
to come themselves because of ill health and their own duties 
at home. 

Yet, be assured, Father, most beloved of God, that our 
affairs have exceeding great need of your presence, and it is 
necessary for you, yet this once, to bestir your venerable age 
in order to sustain Cappadocia, which is already wavering 
and near its fall. 

99. To Count Terentius 1 

Although I had felt the greatest eagerness to obey, at least 
in part, both the imperial command and your Honor's friend- 
ly letter, whose every word and every opinion, I felt con- 
fident, was laden with a right motive and a noble intention, 
I was not allowed to direct my zeal to the work. And the 

6 Otherwise unknown. 

7 Governor of Cappadocia and successor of Elias. Cf. Tillemont, note 58. 
Although here represented as a persecutor of the orthodox, in the next 
year, when he was removed from office and accused of embezzlement 
of public funds, he found no warmer advocate than St. Basil. St. Basil 
wrote three letters in his behalf, Letters 147, 148, and 149. The per- 
secution here mentioned may simply have been severe exactions of trib- 

I Terentius was a general and a count under Valens, and, though ortho- 
dox, held the Arian emperor's favor. St. Basil addressed the present 
letter to Terentms in Iberia, where he was in command of the twelve 
legions. Letter 214 is also addressed to Terentius, while Letter 105 is 
addressed to the daughters of Terentius. The present letter was written 
from Satala in July or August, 372. Cf. Loots, op. cit. 27. 


cause the first, indeed, and truest is my sins, which every- 
where come out to meet me and trip my steps; and, secondly, 
our estrangement from the bishop who had been assigned to 
co-operate with us. For, our most revered brother, Theodotus, 2 
who had promised from the beginning to assist us in every- 
thing and had readily brought us down from Getasa to Ni- 
copolis, when he saw us in the city, from I know not what 
impulse, was filled with such a loathing for us and such a 
fear of our sins that he could not endure to take us either 
to morning or to evening prayer. He acted justly as regards 
us, and in a manner befitting my life, but did not plan ad- 
vantageously for the general tranquillity of the churches. And 
he alleged to us as the reason for this that we had willingly 
received into communion the most revered Bishop Eustathius. 
Yet what we have done is as follows. 

Since we had been summoned to a synod held by our 
brother Theodotus, and were eager through charity to heed 
the Invitation, In order that we might not seem to make our 
meeting unavailing and fruitless, we endeavored to have an in- 
terview with the brother Eustathius mentioned above. And 
we put before him all the charges concerning the faith which 
the followers of our brother Theodotus bring against him. 
Moreover, we demanded that, if he was a follower of the 
right faith, he should make it evident to us so that we might 
be in communion with him, but, if he was differently dis- 
posed, that he should know definitely that we also would be 
unfavorably disposed toward him. Accordingly, after we had 

2 The Bishop of Nicopolis in Lesser Armenia, and an aged prelate of 
high character and unquestioned orthodoxy. Theodotus was greatly re. 
spected by St. Basil, but he was extremely annoyed at St. Basil's re- 
luctance to sever relations with Eustathius of Sebaste. For this reason 
he refused to co-operate with St. Basil in giving bishops to Armenia, and 
virtually excommunicated St. Basil on his arrival at Nicopolis xvhere 
he had invited him. Friendly relations were later re-established between 
the two. Letters 121 and 130 are addressed to Theodotus. 


discussed much with each other, and all that day had been 
spent in the examination of these matters, finally, when eve- 
ning had come, we separated from each other without having 
brought our discussion to any final agreement. On the follow- 
ing day again, having taken our stands early in the morning, 
we were arguing on the same points, and at this time the 
brother Poimenius, a presbyter of Sebasteia, came, and he 
zealously defended the opposing doctrine against us. 3 Little 
by little, then, we freed ourselves of those charges which he 
seemed to bring against us and led them on to such agreement 
regarding the points which we were investigating that, by 
the grace of the Lord, we were found to differ not in the 
slightest degree from each other. Thus, then, somewhere 
around the ninth hour we rose up to pray and returned thanks 
to the Lord who granted us the favor of believing and speak- 
ing the same doctrine. In addition to this, I ought to have 
secured a written admission from the man so that his agree- 
ment in doctrine might be evident to those opposed to him, 
and might be for the rest sufficient proof of the man's good 
will. But I myself wished, for the sake of greater exactness, 
to meet with the followers of Theodotus, to secure from them 
a written statement of the faith, and to offer it to Eustathius 
mentioned above. My purpose was twofold, that he might 
confess the true faith, and that they might be fully assured, 
having no occasion for controversy because of his admitting 
their propositions. But, before learning why we were meeting, 
or what we had accomplished by our interview, the followers 
of Bishop Theodotus no longer deemed it proper to call us 
to the synod. We turned back in the middle of our journey, 
being disheartened because they were making ineffectual our 
labors for the peace of the churches. 

After this, then, when the necessity of a journey to Ar- 

3 'Us' and *we' here mean St. Basil alone, not St. Basil and Eustathius. 


menia befell us, knowing the individuality of the man, and 
wishing to defend my actions before a trustworthy witness and 
to fully satisfy him, I went to Getasa, the field of Meletius, 
the bishop dearly beloved of God, where Theodotus, whom 
I mentioned before, was present with me. So, when we were 
accused by him there because of our connection with Eusta- 
thius, I reported the success of our conference that I found 
him agreeing perfectly with us in everything. But, as he af- 
firmed that [Eustathius] had denied this after his departure 
from us, and that he had declared to his own followers that 
he had agreed with us in no way concerning the faith, in 
reply to this I said (and consider, admirable Sir, if I did 
not give most just and incontrovertible answers to this) that 
I was persuaded, inferring from the constancy of the man in 
other respects, that he did not turn so lightly to the opposite 
views, and that he did not at one moment admit, and at the 
next deny, what he had said. I was convinced that a man 
who shunned deceit even in trifling matters as something 
terrible, to say nothing of matters of such importance and 
so universally noised abroad, would never choose to be op- 
posed to the truth. But, even if that which is talked among 
you should happen to be true, a written statement must be 
offered to him, containing a complete exposition of the right 
faith. Certainly, then, if I find him expressing his agreement 
In writing, I shall remain in communion with him, but, if 
I detect him shrinking back, I shall withdraw from union with 
him. When Bishop Meletius approved my words and also 
brother Diodorus, our fellow presbyter (for he was present 
on this occasion), then the most revered brother Theodotus 
agreed and invited us to go to Nicopolis in order that we 
might inspect his church, and might take him as our fellow 
traveler on our journey to Satala. However, he left us in 
Getasa, and, when we arrived at Nicopolis, forgetful of what 


he had heard from me and of what he had agreed with us, 
he dismissed us, after having covered us with shame by those 
insults and those ignominies which we described a short 
while ago. 

How, therefore, was it possible for me, most honorable 
Friend, to carry out any of your commands and to give 
bishops to Armenia, since the companion of my cares enter- 
tained such feelings toward me? Through him I was expect- 
ing to find suitable men, because there are in his diocese both 
pious and intelligent men who are skilled in the language and 
understand the other peculiar traits of the nation. Although 
I know their names, I shall willingly keep silence, in order 
that no obstacle may arise to prevent their service in Ar- 
menia at another time, at least. 

And now, having arrived at Satala in such a state of 
health, I seem to have settled all the rest, by the grace of God. 
I reconciled the bishops of Armenia and gave them the proper 
instructions, so that they may lay aside their accustomed 
indifference and assume a true zeal for the churches of 
the Lord. Concerning transgressions indifferently committed 
throughout Armenia, I also gave them rules as to how they 
might properly deal with them. Then, too, I received pro- 
posals passed by the majority from the Church of Satala, 
containing a request that we give them a bishop. Next, this 
became an object of care to me to investigate the slander 
spread abroad about our brother Cyril, Bishop of Armenia; 
through the grace of God we discovered that it was falsely 
set in motion through the prejudice of those who hate him. 
This they openly confessed in our presence. Moreover, we 
seem in some measure to have appeased the people of Satala 
in his regard, so that they no longer avoid communion with 
him. Now, if these are slight matters and worth nothing, 
nevertheless, there was nothing else that we could do, because 


of our mutual lack of harmony caused by the machinations 
of the Devil. I should have been silent about these matters, 
in order that I might not seem to be publishing the dis- 
graceful treatment accorded me. However, since I could not 
otherwise defend myself to your Excellency, I was obliged 
to relate all the truth of what has happened. 

100. To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 1 

In the neighboring country of Armenia I beheld the letter 
of your Charity as men at sea would descry a beacon shin- 
Ing afar off on the waters, especially if the sea should happen 
to be wildly agitated by the winds. For, though, indeed, a 
letter of your Dignity is naturally pleasing and affords much 
comfort, yet, at that time especially, the circumstances in- 
creased my gratification from it. Now, what these circum- 
stances were and how they grieved us I should not say, since 
I have decided once and for all to forget those distressful 
things. Our fellow deacon, however, will relate all to your 

My body has failed me so completely that I cannot endure 
even the slightest movements without pain. Yet, I pray that 
now, at least, it may be possible for my former desire to be 
fulfilled through the help of your prayers, even though this 
journey abroad has brought me much difficulty through the 
long neglect of affairs in our own church. But, if God, while 
we are upon earth, will deem us worthy to see your Rever- 
ence in our church, we shall have for the future truly good 
hopes of not being altogether cut off from the gifts of God. 

1 Another of St. Basil's letters addressed to Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata. 
Previous letters to him are Letters 27, 30, 31, 34, 47, 48, 95, and 98. This 
letter, according to Loofs, op. at. 30, was written from Armenia in July 
or August, 372. 


Therefore, we ask, if it be possible, that this visit take place 
at the time of the synod which we celebrate yearly on the 
seventh day of the month of September in memory of the 
blessed martyr, Eupsychius, 2 an event now approaching. For, 
matters deserving of attention and needing assistance from \ou 
lie before us, namely, in regard to the appointment of bishops 
and in reference to a consultation and consideration of the 
actions directed against us by Gregory of Nvssa, who is or- 
ganizing synods in Ancyra and in no way is ceasing, in his 
simplicity, 3 to scheme against us. 

101. A Letter of Consolation 1 

That this, our first letter to you, should have a more cheer- 
ful subject is a matter worthy of prayer. For, in this way, 
everything would have been according to our desire, because 
we wish that the whole life of all those who choose to live In 
piety should proceed prosperously toward a good end. But, 
these circumstances have been assuredly ordered for the bene- 
fit of our souls by our Lord who directs our lives according 
to His ineffable wisdom. For, through them, He has rendered 

2 The martyrdom of Eupsychius, according; to the Roman calendar, is 
celebrated 'on April 9 (Boll. Acta. SS, April 9). He suffered during 
the reign of Julian for helping to destroy a temple to Fortune Cf. 
Sozomen, Ecc. Hist 5 11. The orders of Julian for the rebuilding of the 
temple were never fulfilled, but a church was built on the spot and 
dedicated to Eupsychius. St. Basil is here inviting Eusebius to a festival 
held annually in honor of Eupsychius, and in Letter 252 he summons 
the bishops of Pontus to the festival of the dedication of this church. 

3 According to the Benedictine editors, this is another occasion on which 
St. Gregory displays his lack of tact. For it is lack of tact and not of 
affection toward St. Basil that causes his opposition. Cf. also, Letter 58. 

I Editions anterior to the Benedictine add to this title, 'to the wife of 
Arinthaeus/ but no manuscript known at present contains it. The letter 
was written in 372. 


life painful to you and has led us, who are joined with you 
through the love of God, to sympathy. Now, on learning 
from our brethren in what troubles you were, it seemed that 
we ought to bring you all possible consolation. If, therefore, 
it had also been possible to cross over to the place in which 
your Nobility happens to reside, I would have considered it 
as of the greatest importance to do so. The feebleness, how- 
ever, of our body and the numerous duties in which we are 
engaged, both rendering even this journey which we have 
undertaken a cause of great harm to our churches, have in- 
duced us to visit your Dignity by letter, reminding you that 
these afflictions from the Lord who watches over us do not 
happen to the servants of God without benefit, but for a trial 
(rf true love toward the God who created us. For, as the 
toils of the contests lead the athletes on to their crowns, so 
also the test through tribulations leads Christians on to per- 
fection, if we receive with becoming patience and in all grati- 
tude what is dispensed to us by the Lord. 

All things are directed by the goodness of the Master. 
Nothing which happens to us should be received as distress- 
ful, although at present it affects our weakness. In fact, even 
if we are ignorant of the reasons for which each event is 
applied as a blessing to us from the Master, nevertheless, 
we ought to be convinced of this that what happens is as- 
suredly advantageous either for us as a reward for our pa- 
tience, or for the soul which was taken up, lest, tarrying too 
long in this life, it should be filled with the evil which exists 
in this world. For, if the hope of Christians were limited to 
this life, with reason would the premature separation from 
the body be considered difficult, but, if the beginning of true 
life for those living in God is the release of the soul from 
these corporeal chains, why do we grieve, even as those who 


have no hope? 2 Therefore, be encouraged. Do not succumb 
to your afflictions, but show that you are superior and have 

risen above them. 

102. To the Citizens of Satala 1 

Constrained by your own appeals and those of the whole 
people, I took upon rmself the care of your church and I 
promised you before God to leave undone nothing that should 
come within my power. Therefore, as it is written, I was com- 
pelled to touch, as it were, the apple of my eye. 2 Thus, my 
extraordinary- esteem for you permitted me to remember 
nothing, neither relationship nor my intimacy with the man 
from childhood, in preference to your demands. On the con- 
trary, I was forgetful of all that existed personally between 
us as friends. I took no account of the many lamentations 
uttered by my people when deprived of his leadership, nor 
of the tears of all his relatives. I did not take to heart the 
affliction of his mother, already aged and depending upon 
his assistance alone. I paid no regard to all these things, so 
important and at the same time so numerous. I had but one 
purpose to adorn your church with the leadership of such 
a man and to bring it aid, since it had already fallen to its 
knees because of its long-continued lack of leadership, and 
needed much able guidance for its restoration. 3 

2 Cf. 1 Thess 4.12. 

1 The Benedictines give the year 372 as the date of this letter, but Loofs, 
op. cit. 20f, places it m 375. 

2 Cf. Zach. 2.8. 

3 The person of whom St. Basil is thinking is Poemenius. Cf Letter 122. 


So much, then, for our part. And we ask that your re- 
sponse may not appear less than our expectation and the 
assurance which we gave to the man that we have sent him 
out to friends most dear to us, but that each of you may strive 
to surpass the other in your esteem and love for him. See to 
it, therefore, that you show this noble rivalry, and by your 
extraordinary attention console his heart, so as to make him 
forget his country, forget his relatives, and forget the people 
who were as dependent upon his leadership as a new-born 
babe upon the breasts of its mother. 

We have sent Nicias 4 ahead to make known to your Hon- 
orable Selves what has been done, in order that, on receiv- 
ing the news, you may celebrate and give thanks to the Lord 
who has deigned through us to fulfill your prayer. 

103. To the People of Satala 1 

The Lord has answered the prayers of His people, and 
through our Lowliness has given to them a shepherd worthy 
of the name, and not one who makes traffic of the title as 
many do. He is a man capable of pleasing you exceedingly 
in the name of the Lord who has filled him with His spiritual 
gifts, since you love the true doctrine and have accepted a 
life in accordance with the commands of the Lord. 

4 Otherwise unknown. 

1 On the same subject and of: the same date as the preceding letter. 


104. To the Prefect Modestus 1 

The very act of writing to so great a man, even if no other 
pretext were added, is to be esteemed a special honor in the 
eyes of the discerning, because association with men who pre- 
eminently surpass all others confers the highest distinction on 
those deemed worthy of it. But, as for me, who am in distress 
for my entire country, the petition to your Lordship is a 
necessity, and I beseech you to bear it kindly and as you are 
wont to do, and to stretch out your hand to our country 
which has already fallen to its knees. And this is the matter 
for which we are making our petition. 

Our ministers, consecrated to God, both presbyters and 
deacons, were left free of taxation by the former census. But 
our present registrars, on the ground that they have received 
no order from your exalted Highness, 2 have enrolled them, 
except, perchance, some who were otherwise exempt on ac- 
count of age. Therefore, we ask that this record of your kind- 
ness be left us to preserve for all future time a goodly memory 
of you, and that the clergy be exempt from taxation accord- 
ing to the former law. Moreover, we ask that the exemption 
should not be made to the persons of those now receiving 
it (for thus the favor will pass on to their successors, who do 
not always happen to be worthy of being priests). But some 

1 Modestus was Prefect of the Praetorium and under Valens a persecutor 
of the Catholics. By command of Valens he had given St. Basil the 
choice between deposition and communion with the Arians. Shortly 
after this he became II1> which he attributed to the divine vengeance 
because of his treatment of St. Basil. He summoned St. Basil, asked 
his pardon, and begged for prayers. On his recovery, which he attrib- 
uted to the prayers of St. Basil, he regarded him with the greatest 
respect, and used his influence in his favor. Six of St. Basil's letters to 
Modestus are extant: Letters 104, HO, 111, 279, 280, and 281. The 
present letter was written in 372. 

2 Exousias a title of address used by St. Basil for laymen only. 


general concession should be made for the clergy according 
to the draft in the open register, 3 so that exemption may be 
given by the administrators of the churches each time to those 
who are actually engaged in the divine service. 
^ This will both render immortal your Excellency's reputa- 
tion for good deeds, and will procure many Intercessors with 
God for the imperial family. It will provide much benefit for 
the state, too, since we offer the relief which comes from tax 
exemption not altogether to the clergy, but to those as well 
who are at any time suffering afflictions. Now, this is what 
we do in our state of freedom, as can be ascertained by any- 
one who wishes to know. 

105. To the Deaconesses, the Daughters of Count Terentius 1 

I expected, in truth, to meet your Modesties when I 
stopped at Samosata; when I failed to do so, I did not bear 
the disappointment easily, wondering when it would be either 
possible for me to approach your neighborhood again or 
pleasing to you to visit our country. But, let those decisions 
remain with the will of the Lord. 

As to the present, however, when I found that my son 
Sophronius 2 was setting out in your direction, I gladly en- 
trusted him with this letter which carries a greeting to you 
and reveals our disposition of mind that, by the grace of 
God, we do not cease to remember you and to give thanks 
for you to the Lord that you are the noble offspring of a 

3 Probably the public census list. 

1 For Count Terentius, cf. Letter 99. This letter was written in the 
autumn of 372. 

2 Perhaps the disciple o Eustathius mentioned in Letter 119. 


noble root, fruitful in good works, and truly like lilies among 
thorns. 3 For, the fact of your not yielding to their deceits 
when you were surrounded by the great perverseness of men 
who corrupt the doctrine of truth, and of your not abandon- 
ing the apostolic pronunciatioa of the faith, turning to the 
innovations prevalent at the present time is not that de- 
serving of great thanksgiving to God, and does it not most 
justly win for you great commendation? You have believed 
in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Do not be- 
tray this trust: Father, the beginning of all things; only-be- 
gotten Son, begotten of Him, true God, Perfection from 
Perfection, living Image, wholly showing in Himself the 
Father; Holy Spirit, having His subsistence from God, Fount 
of Holiness, life-giving Power, perfecting Grace, through 
which man is adopted and the mortal is made immortal, in 
all respects united with the Father and the Son in glory and 
eternity, in power and kingdom, in sovereignty and divinity, 
as the tradition of the saving baptism testifies. 

But, they who say that either the Son or the Spirit is a 
creature, or who in general reduce the Spirit to the minister- 
ing or servile order, are far from the truth. We should flee 
communion with them and avoid their conversation, as being 
poisonous to the soul. But, if at some future time the Lord 
shall grant us the favor of seeing you, we shall explain in 
fuller detail our words concerning the faith, so that from 
Scriptural proofs you may be able to recognize the strength 
of the truth and the weakness of heresy. 

3 Cf, Cant 2.2. St. Basil is fond of borrowing expressions and phrases 
from the Bible. 


106. To a Soldier 1 

Although we must thank the Lord for many things of which 
he has considered us worthy in our travels,, we judge that the 
acquaintance with your Honor which was granted to us by 
our good Master is our greatest blessing. For, we have come 
to know a man who makes clear that It is possible even in 
the military life to maintain a perfect love toward God, and 
that it behooves the Christian to be distinguished not by the 
style of his dress, but by the disposition of his soul 

Even at that time, therefore, we were most desirous of 
meeting you, and now, as often as we call you to mind, we 
enjoy the happiest thoughts. Accordingly, act the man, and 
be strong, and always strive to nourish and augment your 
love of God, in order that the abundance of His blessings to 
you may continue to increase. Moreover, we need no other 
proof that you remember us, since we have the testimony of 
your deeds. 

107. To the Widow Julitta 1 

I was exceedingly distressed on reading in the letter from 
your Nobility that the same difficulties again beset you. What 
really should be done in regard to men who show such an 
unstable disposition, saying at one time one thing and at 
another another, and not abiding by their personal agree- 

1 This letter was written in 372. 

1 St. Basil wrote this letter to a widow of Cappadocia who was being 
troubled by the guardians of her heirs. The two following letters are 
also written in her behalf. Tillemont, though without sufficient evidence, 
wisJies to identify her with the other widows to whom St. Basil has 
letters addressed. The date of this letter is 372. 


ments? If, after the promises made before me and before 
the ex-prefect, the man now, as if he had said nothing, 
shortens to such an extent the appointed time, he seems to 
be absolutely beyond shame before us. 

Nevertheless, I have written to him, reprehending him, and 
reminding him of his promises. I also wrote to Helladius, 2 
servitor of the prefect, in order that through him the pre- 
fect might be informed of your difficulties. For, I did not 
think that it was appropriate for me, as I had never written 
to him about any private business, to be so overbold my- 
self with so important an official, and I suspected that I 
would receive some censure, since, as you know, great men 
easily become provoked at such things. However, if there 
is to be any help, it will be through Helladius, a man both 
honest and well disposed toward us, and one who fears God 
and enjoys untold freedom of speech with the prefect. Yet, 
the Holy One can free you of all affliction, if only with a 
true and sincere heart we place our hope in Him. 

108. To the Guardian of the Heirs of Julitta 1 

I was amazed when I heard that, forgetful of your former 
kind promises, so becoming to your Liberality, 2 you were 
now bringing a most severe and rigid claim against this sister 
of ours. What I should infer from the reports I do not 
know. For, I am not only conscious of your great generosity, 
acknowledged by those who have had experience of it, but 

2 Helladius, to whom also Letter 109 is written, is otherwise unknown. 

1 This letter Is of the same date and on the same subject as the preceding. 

2 Eleutheria Sophocles (Greek Lexicon) questions whether St. Basil is 
using this at a title. No other instance of its use as such is found. 


I ako remember your promises which you made before me 
and this man. 3 You said that you were specifying in writing 
a rather short time, but would grant more, because you were 
willing to accomodate yourself to the exigencies of the affair 
and to show leniency to the widow who was compelled to 
deliver so much money all at one time from her property. 

What, then, the cause is for such a great change taking 
place I cannot understand. Only, whatever it is, I urge you, 
being mindful of your generosity and looking to the Lord 
who requites your good will, to grant the time of grace which 
you formerly promised, in order that they may be able to 
pay the debt by the sale of some of their possessions. I 
clearly remember, also, your promising, if you should re- 
ceive the stipulated amount of gold, to hand over to the 
widow just mentioned aU the papers agreed upon, both those 
negotiated before the prefects and those privately drawn up. 

I beseech you, then, bestow this honor upon us and obtain 
from the Lord great glory for yourself, calling to mind your 
promises and realizing that you are a man and that you your- 
self must expect occasions when you will need help from 
God. Do not exclude yourself from this help by your present 
harshness, but win for yourself the compassion of God by 
showing to the afflicted all kindness and fairness. 

109. To Count Helladius 1 

1 apologize exceedingly for being troublesome to your Ex- 
cellency, lest I should seem to make use beyond measure of 

& I.e., the ex-prefect, 

1 On the same subject and written at the same time as the two preceding 


your friendship because of your great authority. Nevertheless, 
I am not permitted by the stress of circumstances to be silent. 
Therefore, when I saw this sister, a relative of ours, suffering 
the affliction of widowhood and burdened with the care of 
the estate of her orphan son, now being oppressed beyond 
her strength by insupportable hardships, sick at heart I pitied 
her. I hastened to appeal to you, in order that, if it is at all 
possible, you may deign to co-operate with the man sent by 
her, so as to deliver her from further abuse, since she has al- 
ready paid that which she promised in my presence. For, she 
was promised that the interest would be cancelled if she 
paid the principal. 

Now, however, those who have the care of her heirs, after 
having received the principal, are attempting to collect the 
interest. Therefore, as one who knows that the Lord makes 
His own the affairs of widows and orphans, be zealous about 
using your efforts in this matter, in the hope of a recompense 
from God Himself. For, I think that, when his Clemency, our 
admirable prefect, has learned that the principal has been 
paid, he will sympathize with this now pitiable and afflicted 
house which is fallen to its knees and is no longer equal to 
the abuses inflicted on it from without. Therefore, I beg 
(and pardon the necessity because of which I have troubled 
you), co-operate in this matter, also, according to the power 
which Christ has given you, since you are kind and honest 
in your disposition and use for a good end whatever you 
have received. 

110. To the Prefect Modestus 1 
In the same measure as you have granted us honor and 

1 For Modestus, cf. Letter 104. This letter was written in 372. 


freedom of speech, being content in the gentleness of your 
disposition to descend to our level, in that measure and still 
more do we pray that our good Master will bestow on you 
an increase of dignity during your whole life. Although I had 
long ago set my heart on writing and enjoying the honor, yet, 
respect for authority restrained me, for I was careful lest I 
should ever seem to be using that freedom to excess. 

But, I now am forced to take courage from the fact that 
your incomparable Excellency has authorized us to write, as 
well as from the need of those who are being afflicted. There- 
fore, if among the mighty supplications from the lowly have 
any weight, let me entreat you, admirable Sir, by your kind 
assent graciously to give security to the pitiful country people, 
and to order that the tax on iron be made endurable for the 
inhabitants of the iron-producing country of Taurus, so that 
they may not be wiped out once and for all, but that their 
service to the public treasury may be lasting. We are con- 
vinced that this of all things is especially an object of concern 
to your admirable Benevolence. 2 

111. To the Prefect Modestus 1 

I would not have had the courage in other circumstances 
to trouble your Excellency, since I know how to estimate my- 
self and how to recognize the powers of others. But, whea I 
saw this man, a friend of mine, acutely disturbed because he 
had been summoned, I dared to give him this letter, so that, 

2 Philanthropia a title of address used by St. Basil for laymen. 

1 For Modestus, ci Letter 104. This letter is of the same date as the pre- 
ceding one. 


by Differing it in lieu of an olive branch, 2 he might meet with 
some kindness. Assuredly, even if we ourselves are of no ac- 
count, our very moderation is sufficient to supplicate the 

kindest of prefects, and to obtain pardon for us, in order 
that, if no wrong has been done by the man, he can be saved 
through truth itself, and, even if he has erred, that he may be 
forgiven because of our intercession. 

But, as to the condition of our affairs here, who knows 
better than you, who observe the weak spots in each one and 
with wonderful foresight keep everything under control? 

112. To the Leader Andronicus 1 

If I had such health as to be able easily to endure journeys 
and to bear the hardships of winter, I would not be writing. 
On the contrary, for two reasons I should be going in person 
to visit your Magnanimity. The first is that I might pay the 
long-standing debt of my promise (for I know that I agreed 
to go to Sebasteia, there to enjoy the company of your Per- 
fection; and I did go, but I missed the meeting, since I ar- 
rived a short time after the departure of your Honor). And 
the second is that I might personally perform a mission which 

1 had for a long time hesitated to commit to writing, since I 
judged that I was too insignificant to obtain such a great 
favor. At the same time I did not think that anyone, when 
interceding for another, would persuade either an official or 
a private individual as readily by letter as if he himself were 
present, dismissing some of the charges, pleading excuse for 

2 An olive branch held in the hand o a suppliant as a symbol of his 
condition and claim. 

1 Both Andronicus and Domitian are otherwise unknown. This letter was 

written in the year 372. 


others, and asking pardon for the rest, none of which could 
be easily accomplished through a letter. Now, because I had 
one advantage your own godlike person to offset all these 
disadvantages, and because it will be sufficient to unfold to 
you the opinion which we have about the matter, you yourself 
adding the rest, I did not shrink from the undertaking. 

But you see how I am going around in a circle, hesitating 
and shrinking from revealing the cause for which I am writ- 
ing these words. This Domitian has been a friend of ours, as 
were our parents, so that he differs in no way at all from a 
brother. Why should one not speak the truth? Accordingly, 
having learned the reason for which he was suffering, we 
said that he deserved to suffer thus. Indeed, let there be no 
one who shall escape vengeance if he has shown negligence, 
little or much, toward your Excellency. 2 Yet, when we saw 
him living in fear and in dishonor, and his safety depending 
upon your decision, we believed that he had had sufficient 
punishment; so we humbly beg you to be both generously and 
kindly disposed toward him. For, to subject one's opponents 
to his power is truly the mark of a strong man and a ruler, 
but to be kind and gentle to those who have fallen is char- 
acteristic of one who surpasses all men in greatness of mind 
and clemency. Thus it will be possible for you, if you desire, 
to show your greatness of soul to one and the same person, 
either, as you would wish, in punishing or in saving. But, the 
fear of the penalties expected and which he knows he de- 
serves to suffer is a sufficient measure of punishment for 
Domitian. We beg you to add no further penalty to this. In 
fact, consider that there have already been many persons with 
power over wrong-doers in former times, and of these no 
word has been handed down to posterity; but those who ex- 
celled the many in wisdom and put away their wrath, the 

2 Aret&n here used as a title of address by St. Basil 


memory of these is handed down immortal for all time. Let 
this also be added to the reports about you. Grant us who 
desire to celebrate your praises to be able to excel the songs 
of kindly deeds sung in previous times. Thus, even Croesus 3 
is said to have restrained his wrath against the slayer of his 
son, who handed himself over for punishment; and Cyrus 
the Great, after conquering him, is said to have become a 
friend to this same Croesus. 4 We shall include you among 
these men; with all our strength we shall publicly proclaim 
these facts, unless we should be considered an altogether 
too insignificant herald of such a great man. 

Among other things we must mention this, that we punish 
those who have done any wrong whatsoever, not for what 
has already happened (for what means would there be to 
undo that which is already done?), but that they themselves 
may become better in the future, or that they may be an ex- 
ample for others to learn self-control. However, in the present 
case, one might say that neither of these results is lacking, for 
he himself will remember this even after death, and I think 
that the rest, looking at him, are frightened to death. There- 
fore, if anything should be added to his punishment, it would 
seem to be for the satisfaction of personal wrath. This, I would 
say, is far from being true in your case, and I would not have 
been induced to speak any of these words if I had not ob- 
served that the reward is greater for him who gives than for 
those who receive. For, to not a few will the magnanimity of 
your disposition be evident. In fact, all the Cappadocians 
are looking to the future, and I would pray them to reckon 
this magnanimity among the other virtues belonging to you. 

I hesitate to stop writing, believing that what I have omitted 
will be a loss to me. At least I will add this much, that, al- 

3 Cf. Herodotus 1.45. 

4 Cf. Herodotus 1.88. 


though he had letters from many interceding for him, he 
held this one from us more precious than all, having under- 
stood, I know not how, that a word of ours is of influence 
with your Perfection. Therefore, in order that he may not be 
deceived in the hopes which he has in us, and that we may 
be mentioned with reverence among our own people, let me 
urge you, my unsurpassed Master, to consent to our re- 
quest. Certainly, you have observed human affairs no less 
than the philosophers of the past, and you know how fair 
is the treasure which is reserved for all those who render serv- 
ice to the needy. 

7/3. To the Presbyters at Tarsus 1 

On meeting this man, I felt great gratitude toward the 
holy God, because by the presence of such a one He gave 
me comfort from my many afflictions, and through him clearly 
showed your love. From the principles of this one man I 
have learned, I might say, the zeal which all of you have for 
the truth. Now, what we discussed in private with each other 
he himself will inform you. But, what is proper for me to 
make known to your Charities is this. 

The present time shows a great inclination toward the de- 
struction of the churches, and it is quite a long time since we 
first observed this. Further, as to the building up of the 
Church, the correction of errors, compassion toward the 
weak among the brethren, and protection for those who are 
sound not one of these things exists. Yet, neither Is there as- 
sistance or remedy for this disease that has seized upon us, 
nor any protection against that which may be expected. And, 
actually, the condition of the Church now (to use a clear 

1 This letter was written in 372. 


Illustration, even though It may seem to be rather common- 
place) is like that of an old garment easily rent by any 
trifling strain, and Incapable of being restored to its original 
strength. Therefore, there is need of great zeal and great 
care in such a time, so that the churches may receive some 
benefit. And it is a benefit for those hitherto separated to 
be united. Moreover, there would be union, if we would 
be willing to accommodate ourselves to the weaker in what- 
ever matters do no harm to souls. 

Therefore, since many mouths are opened against the 
Holy Spirit, and many tongues are spurred on to blasphemy 
against Him, we ask you to reduce the group of blasphemers 
to as small a number as lies in your power. We also ask 
you to receive in communion those who do not say that the 
Holy Spirit is a creature, in order that blasphemers may be 
left alone, and that either being ashamed they may return 
to the truth, or continuing in their sin may be held unworthy 
of credit because of their small number. Therefore, let us 
seek for nothing more, but hold out to the brethren who wish 
to be united with us the Creed of Nicaea; and, if they agree 
with it, let us require further that they must not say that the 
Holy Spirit is a creature, nor be in commuion with those 
who say it. But, I think that we should demand nothing be- 
yond this. In fact, I am convinced that by a longer association 
and an experience together without strife, even if it should be 
necessary to add more for the purpose of explanation, the 
Lord who makes all things work together unto good for those 
who love Him will grant it. 2 

2 Cf. Rom 828. 


. To Cynacus and His Followers in Tarsus 1 

Why should we proclaim among men who are sons of 
peace how great is the blessing of peace? Since, therefore, this 
blessing, great and wondrous and eagerly desired by all those 
who love the Lord, now runs the risk of being reduced to a 
bare name, 'because iniquity has abounded, the charity of 
many having now grown cold,' 2 I think that those who serve 
the Lord sincerely and truly ought to have this one ambition 
to bring back to unity the churches which have been severed 
from each other at 'sundry times and in divers manners.' 3 
And, certainly, if I myself should attempt to do this, I should 
not justly be charged with being a busybody. For, nothing 
belongs so peculiarly to a Christian as being a peacemaker, 4 
and therefore the Lord has promised us the greatest reward 
for it. Accordingly, when I had met the brethren, and beheld 
their brotherly love and their affection toward you, and their 
still much greater love of Christ, as well as their exactness 
and strength in the faith, and when I also saw that they w r ere 
showing great zeal for two things not to be separated from 
your love, and not to betray the sound faith I approved their 
good course of action. Further, I am writing to your Dignity, 
urging with all love that you regard them as truly united and 
as sharers of all your solicitude for the Church. And I have 
attested before them to your correctness of faith, and to the 
fact that you yourself, by the grace of God, with zeal for 
the truth are ready for everything which you may have to 
suffer for the true doctrine. 

1 Cyriacus is unknown This letter is on the same subject as the preceding 
and was written at about the same time. 

2 Cf. Matt. 24 12. 

5 Cf. Heb. 1.1. The translation of the Greek polymeros is, literally, 'in 

many portions.' 
4 Cf. Matt. 5.9. 


Now the following conditions, I am convinced, are not 
objectionable to you, and are sufficient assurance in them- 
selves for the brethren mentioned above namely, that you 
profess the faith as set forth by our Fathers once assembled 
in Nlcaea and deny not a single one of the statements there, 
but realize that the three hundred and eighteen, coming to- 
gether without contention, did not speak without the opera- 
tion of the Holy Spirit; and that you add to that Creed also 
that one must not say that the Holy Spirit is a creature, nor, 
moreover, be In communion with those who say it, that thus 
the Church of God may be pure, having no admixture of 
weeds. If this certainty is offered to them by your Merciful- 
ness, they are also ready to exhibit a like submission to you. 
I pledge myself on the part of the brethren that they will in 
no way oppose, but will show r to you all good behavior in the 
highest degree, if this one thing sought by them Is readily 
offered bv vour Perfection. 

1 15. To the Heretic Simplicia 1 

Ill-advisedly do men heap abominations upon their betters 
and Indulge their Inferiors. Therefore, I myself now restrain 
my tongue, stifling by silence any rebuke for the insolence 

1 The tone of this letter (written in 372 or 373) is entirely different from 
that of St Basil's other letters, but there seems no reason for question- 
ing its authenticity The circumstances referred to in the letter can be 
understood from Letter 38 of St. Gregory of Nazianzus. It appears that 
a certain church in Cappadocia elected as its bishop the slave of a 
very wealthv ^ornan called Simplicia, who was very generous but of 
suspected orthodoxy. St. Basil and St. Gregory unwisely ordained the 
man before receiving the permission of his owner, who in her anger 
threatened St Basil with the vengeance of her slaves ahd eunuchs. In 
this letter St. Basil answers her threats. After the death of St. Basil 
she directed her efforts to St. Gregory in order to compel him to annul 
the ordination. Cf. Maran Vita Basilii, xxv. The Migne edition states 


directed against me. I shall wait for the Judge above who 
knows how to finally avenge every evil. For, even though a 
person should pour out money more plentifully than sand, he 
Injures his soul if he tramples upon justice. Now, God always 
demands a sacrifice, not, I mean, as if needing it, yet accept- 
ing a pious and righteous mind as a precious sacrifice. But, 
when anyone treads on his own soul by transgressing, God 
considers his prayers profane. 

Therefore, be mindful of the last day, and do not, if you 
please, argue with us. We have more knowledge than you, 
and we are not so choked within with thorns, nor do we 
mix tenfold evil with a few virtues. You have roused up 
against us lizards and toads, 2 creatures of spring, forsooth, 
but unclean ones. However, a bird will come from above to 
devour them. For, the account I must render is not according 
to what you think, but as God knows how to judge. And, if 
there is also need of witnesses, slaves will not take the stand, 
nor the ignominious and utterly abandoned race of eunuchs 
this they certainly are, neither man nor woman, lustful, en- 
vious, venal, quick-tempered, effeminate, gluttonous, avari- 
cious, rough, querulous about their dinner, unstable, niggardly, 
acquisitive, insatiable, mad, and jealous. And what further is 
it possible to say? Condemned to the knife at their very birth, 
how can their minds really be straight, whose very feet are 
twisted? They are chaste without reward as a result of the 

that the Codex Caesareus 67 contains the following prefatory note for 
this letter. 'Letter of the same to Simplicia, about her eunuchs. She was 
a heretic. Now, when Basil was ill, and was entering a bath to wash, the 
same Simplicia ordered her eunuchs and maids to throw his towels 
outside; and straightway the just judgment of God destroyed some of 
them And the same Simplicia sent money to the same blessed Basil to 
make amends for her insult, but he would not receive them and wrote 
this to her/ The writer of this comment was evidently unacquainted 
with the letter of St. Gregory of Nazianzus quoted above. 
2 Apparently, the slaves and eunuchs. 


knife. They are mad with passion without fruition because 
of their own turpitude. These will not stand as witnesses at 
the Judgment, but the eyes of the just and the countenances 
of virile men, who then will see with their eyes what they 
are looking toward with their understanding. 

116. To Firminus 1 

Your letters are both rare and brief, either because of your 
reluctance to write, or for some other reasons because you 
are planning to escape the satiety arising from voluminous 
correspondence, or even because you are accustoming your- 
self to brevity in speech. For us, certainly, they are not at all 
sufficient. However, even if their number should be excessive, 
they are less than we desire, because we wish to learn every 
detail about you how your health is; how your practices of 
asceticism progress ; whether you are persevering in the resolu- 
tions formerly determined upon, or have made some change, 
altering your decision according to circumstances. 

Now, if you had persevered, we would not have been ask- 
ing for a large number of letters, but this much would suffice 
for us 'So-and-so to So-and-so : be assured that we are well, 
and farewell.' Yet, since we hear what we are ashamed even 
to sa\ , that, having left the ranks of your blessed forefathers, 
\ou are going over to the side of your paternal grandfather 
and are striving to become Brettanius instead of Firminus, 
we are eager to hear the facts themselves and to learn the 
reasons inducing you to change to this profession. But, since 

1 Firminus, as well as his father, Firminus, and grandfather, Brettanius, 
are unknown except through this letter Firminus, seems to have aban- 
doned the ascetic life which he had first embraced in order to join the 
ann\ St. Basil wrote this letter about 372. 


you yourself have been silently ashamed of your resolution, 
we urge you not to make plans deserving of shame, and, if 
any such thing has crept into your mind, drive this out of 
your thoughts and become master of yourself again and, 
saying a long farewell to army and weapons and to the hard- 
ships of camp, return to your fatherland. There, consider it 
sufficient for security of life and for all renown to rule over 
the city like your forefathers. Observing your fitness by nature 
and the absence of rivals, we feel confident that this honor 
will come to you without trouble Therefore, if this decision 
was not made from the beginning, or after having been made 
was again rejected, inform us at once, but if and may it 
not be so your plans remain the same, let the misfortune 
come to us self-announced. Truly, we do not want letters. 

777. Without Address, on the Practice of Asceticism 1 

I own that I am already indebted to your Honor; besides, 
this present solicitude in which we are involved necessarily 
makes us dependent on assistance in such troubles, even if 
those advising are chance persons, to say nothing of you, who 
are joined to us by many other lawful claims. And, so, it 
is not necessary to review the past, since we might say that 
we are responsible for our own disorders, because we were 
obstinately eager to depart from that blessed life of asceticism 
which alone leads to salvation. Perhaps, on this account also 
we were given over to this confusion of temptation. But, those 
things are past, and they were considered worthy of mention 

1 This is evidently an answer from Firminus to the preceding letter and 
there does not appear to he any reason for doubting its authenticity. 
This and all other unaddressed letters are lacking m the MSS of the 
Aa family, but this ib piobabh because the\ were unknown. Cf Bes- 
sieres 156, 159, 160. This lettei was wntten about 372 


only lest we fall a second time into a similar perplexity. As 
to the future, I most earnestly wish your Reverence to be 
fully satisfied that, God willing, it will go very easily with us, 
since the matter is both lawful and holds no difficulty, and 
since our many friends at court are ready to show us favors. 
Therefore, our petition will be drawn up to correspond to 
the form given to the Vicar, 2 and, according to it, if there 
is no delay, we shall be dismissed immediately on presenting 
the permission given in the writ. 3 But, I am convinced that 
in such matters our deliberate choice is more powerful than 
the royal commands, and if we show it inflexible and stead- 
fast as regards a life of perfection, the keeping of our vir- 
ginity will, with the help of God, be unassailable and invio- 
late for us. 

We were glad to see the brother whom you entrusted to 
us, and we hold him among our friends, praying that he may 
be worthy of God and of your testimony. 

2 The Empire was divided into thirteen civil dioceses, of which the first 
was subject to the court of the East. Egypt was go\erned by an Augus- 
tal perfect, and the remaining; eleven dioceses by \icars or vice-prefects. 

3 Letter 123 of St. Gregory of Nazianzus makes it evident that a written 
discharge was necessary for soldiers. He says to a certain Ellelichus* 
'Mamanta, the slave Reader, whose father was a soldier, was consecrated 
to God because of his noble character. Give him to God and to us, 
but do not let him be numbered among vagabond soldiers Give him his 
freedom in writing, so that he may not be threatened by others.' Cf. 
P. G 32 534 n. 99. 


118. To Jouinus, Bishop of Perrha 1 

I hold you a debtor of a goodly debt. For, I made you a 
loan of love which I should receive again with interest, since 
even our Lord does not reject such a form of interest. There- 
fore, pay it, my dear Friend, by coming to visit our country. 
Now, that, certainly, is the capital. But, what is the interest? 
The fact of your being present, a man as far superior to us, 
as fathers are better than their sons. 

779. To Eustathius, Bishop of Sebaste 1 

Through my most revered and most pious brother Peter 2 
I salute your Charity, urging you now, as on every other 
occasion, to pray for me that, turning from these detestable 
&nd harmful habits of mine, I may at length become worthy 

1 The MSS vary between Jovinus and Jobinus. Furthermore, all do not 
agree that Jovinus was Bishop of Perrha. Some read Kerres and others 
Perges. Tillemont and Maran, however, prefer the reading- Perrhes of 
six of the MSS. Perrha was in Syria and no't far from the seat of Euse- 
bius of Samosata, The letter is an excellent example of the spirit of the 
Second Sophistic period of Greek rhetoric. The whole is a rather far- 
fetched metaphor. St, Basil has visited Jovinus and compares his visit to 
a loan out at interest. We learn from Letter 127 that Jovinus repaid the 
visit. This letter was written near the end of 372 or at the beginning 
of 373. 

1 St. Basil here writes concerning the untrustworthiness of a certain 
Basil and Sophronius whom Eustathius had recommended to him. He 
was unwilling to break with Eustathius because of their mutual interest 
in asceticism, and for a long time seemed blind to his heretical tenden- 
cies and his duplicity. This letter records the first of a series of events 
which finally brought about the break between the two. Cf. Letter 79 
and, for persistence in heresy, Letters 130, 223, and 244. The end 
the year 372 or the beginning of 373 is given as the date of this letter. 

2 Letter 203, as well as this letter, was carried by a Peter whom St. Basil 
calls his brother. It is uncertain whether this is St. Basil's own brother 
or a spiritual brother. 


of the name of Christ. Now, assuredly, even if I do not speak, 
you and he will converse with each other about our concerns, 
and he will give you an exact account of what has happened, 
so that you will not accept without examination the base 
suspicions against us which in all likelihood those will in- 
vent who have been treating us insolently in disregard of 
the fear of God and of the opinion of men. In fact, what 
sort of charges the noble Basil, whom I welcomed from your 
Reverence as the guardian of my life, made against us I am 
truly ashamed to say, but you will learn all the details from 
the explanations of our brother. And I say this, not to take 
vengeance on him (for I pray that it may not be reckoned 
against him by the Lord), but to make sure that your love 
for us remains steadfast. For, I fear lest they may cause it 
to waver by extravagant slanders, which they have probably 
prepared as a defense for their fault. Whatever charge they 
may make against us, let them be questioned about it by 
your Intelligence 3 whether they have brought a formal 
accusation against us, or have sought the correction of the 
fault of which they now accuse us, or have made their griev- 
ance against us really clear. But, now they have revealed 
through their ignoble flight that, under a cheerful face and 
pretended words of love, they were concealing in their souls 
an inexpressible depth, as it were, of deceit and bitterness. 
How much sorrow they caused us in this, and how much 
occasion for laughter they gave those in this wretched city 
who always loathe the life of piety, and who affirm that a 
pretence of chastity is practiced as a means of winning con- 
fidence and as a form of deceit, is certainly known to your 
Intelligence even if we do not recount it. As a result, there 
is no practice so suspected of wickedness by the citizens here 
as the profession of the ascetical life. 

3 Anchmoeasa. title of address used by St. Basil only for clergy. 


How these things are to be remedied should be the care 
of your Intelligence to consider. For, the charges fabricated 
against us by Sophronius are not a prelude of blessings, but 
a beginning of division and separation, and a striving to cool 
the charity in us. And we urge that he be restrained by your 
Mercifulness from this harmful attack, and that your Charity 
attempt rather to bind together the parts which are disunited 
and not to intensify the separation of those who are eager for 
a division. 

120. To Meletius, Bishop of Antioch 1 

I received a letter from Bishop Eusebius, dearly beloved 
of God, enjoining us to write again to the Western bishops 
concerning certain ecclesiastical affairs, and he wanted us 
to write the letter to be signed by all who are in communion. 
But, since I did not see how I could write about the matters 
which he commanded, I have sent the memorandum to your 
Reverence, so that you yourself, after reading it and being 
attentive to the reports from the most beloved brother Sanc- 
tissimus, 2 our fellow presbyter, may deign to write about 
these affairs as seems best to you. We are ready to subscribe 

1 For the identity of Meletius, cf. Letter 66 n. 6. Previous letters addressed 
to Meletius are Letters 57, 68, and 89. This letter was probably written 
in 372. Letters 120, 121, 122, 129, and 130 are all related in the matter 
of chronology. Tillemont and the Benedictine editors agree as to the 
dating, but disagree in the identity of certain of the persons. Loofs, 
op* cit. 29, disagrees with the dating, but his arguments do not sub- 
stantiate his claims. 

2 Tillemont thinks that Sanctissirnus was a priest from the West be- 
cause of his Latin name. The Benedictines, however, consider him a 
presbyter of Antioch, since Roman names were common there. The 
interest in Eastern affairs displayed by Sanctissimus, and the fact that 
St. Basil calls him his 'fellow presbyter* and sends him on several im- 
portant missions, would indicate that he was an Eastern presbyter. 


to this and to have it quickly carried around to those in com- 
munion, so that he who is to go to the bishops of the West 
may set out with all the signatures. Give orders that we be 
informed immediately of what your Holiness has in mind, so 
that we may not be ignorant of your decisions. 

Now, concerning the charges which are being concocted 
or even are already fabricated against us in Antioch, the 
same brother will report to your Honor, if a previous account 
of the happenings has not already made the circumstances 
clearly known to you. For, in truth, the hope of terminating 
the threats is near at hand. But, I want your Reverence to 
know that our brother Anthimus 3 has made Faustus, 4 who 
is with the pope, 5 a bishop, without his having received the 
votes, and has appointed him in the place of our most revered 
brother Cyril. As a result, he has filled Armenia with dis- 
sensions. Accordingly, that they may not make false reports 
concerning us, and, also that we ourselves may not be blamed 
for the confusion of these acts, I have given your Dignity 
this information. Without doubt, you yourself will deign to 
make this known to the rest, for I think that many will be 
distressed at this disorder. 

3 In 371, Anthiraus, a contentious and ambitious prelate, claimed to be 
Metropolitan of Cappadocia Secunda with his diocese Tyana as a metro- 
politan see. He was joined by those prelates who opposed St. Basil's 
election to the see of Caesarea. 

4 All information about Faustus is procured from Letters 120, 121, and 

5 The title 'pope' was originally employed with great latitude. In the 
East it has always been used to designate simple priests. In the West, 
however, it seems always to have been restricted to bishops. It was prob- 
ably in the fourth century that it became a distinctive title of the Roman 
Pontiff, and this was finally prescribed by Gregory VII. It is not known 
to whom St. Basil is referring. 


121. To Theodotus, Bisfwp of Nicopolis 1 

The winter is bitter and prolonged, so that we do not readi- 
ly have the consolation of letters. For this reason, I realize, 
I have seldom written to your Reverence or received letters 
from you. But since the most beloved brother Sanctissimus, 
our fellow presbyter, has undertaken a journey to you, through 
him I salute your Modesty and urge you to pray for me and 
to lend your ear to the brother just mentioned, so that you 
may leam from him the condition of affairs in the churches 
and may bring all possible zeal to the tasks lying before you. 

I want you to know that Faustus came to us with a letter 
from a pope, asking that he be made a bishop. When we 
demanded a testimonial from your Reverence and from the 
other bishops, he disregarded us and went to Anthimus, and, 
after having received the appointment from him, without any 
mention being made of us, he returned. 

1 On the same subject and of the same date as the preceding letter, and 
one of the two (cf. Letter 130) extant letters of St. Basil to Theodotus. 
Theodotus, Bishop of Nicopolis and Metropolitan of Lesser Armenia, 
was an aged prelate of noble character and unquestioned soundness of 
faith, and was highly esteemed by St. Basil. Theodotus, however, sus- 
pected EustaHjius of Sebaste of heresy, and, when St. Basil showed him- 
self unwilling to believe the suspicions and manifested an evident 
friendship for him, Theodotus turned his suspicions on St. Basil and 
refused to co-operate with him in the appointment of bishops to Lesser 


122. To Poemenius, Bishop of Satala 1 

No doubt, you asked the Armenians for a letter when they 
returned through your city, and you learned my reason for 
not giving them one. Now, if they spoke with a love of the 
truth, you pardoned us at once; but, in case they concealed 
it, which I do not think probable, at least hear it from us. 

Anthimus, a most notable man, who long ago made peace 
with us, later finding an opportune time to satisfy his vanity 
and to cause us some distress, consecrated Faustus by his own 
authority and with his own hand, waiting for the vote of none 
of you and ridiculing us as being too exact in such matters. 
Since, therefore, he violated a time-honored custom and, 
furthermore, showed contempt for you from whom I was 
waiting to receive the testimonial, and performed an act 
not pleasing to God, as I think, being grieved against the 
Armenians, I gave no letter to any of them, not even to 
your Reverence. But I have not admitted Faustus to com- 
munion, openly protesting that, if he does not bring me your 
letters, I shall hold myself for all time estranged from him 
and shall dispose my like-minded brethren to do the same. 

If, then, the situation can be remedied, do you yourself 
both make haste to write, bearing witness for him, if you see 
that the life of the man is good, and to persuade the others 
to write. But, if it is incurable, make this also clear to me, 
so that I may no longer pay any attention at all to them, al- 

I Poemenius, Bishop of Satala in Armenia, was a relative of St. Basil 
and had been brought up in close intimacy with him. When St. Basil 
had been ordered by Valens in 372 to appoint bishops for the churches 
in Armenia, at the earnest request of the people and magistrates he 
had made Poemenius Bishop of Satala. Cf. Letter 102, in which St. 
Basil commends Poemenius to his new flock. St. Basil is now writing 
him about the uncanonicai appointment of Fau&tus which has been the 
subject of the two preceding letters. This letter was written at the end of 
the year 372 or at the beginning of 373. 


though, as they have shown, they have already started to 
transfer their communion to Anthimus, disdaining us and 
this church as being too old-fashioned for friendship. 

123. To the Monk Urbirius 1 

You were going to visit us (and the blessing was near at 
hand) to refresh us at least with the tip of your finger when 
we were burning up in the midst of our trials. What then? 
Our sins stood in the way and prevented your setting out, 
that we might suffer without relief. For, just as among the 
waves one sinks and another rises up, while still another grows 
black with violent agitation, so also with our evils some 
have ceased, others come on, while still others are expected. 
The one relief from our troubles, generally, is to yield in the 
crises and avoid the persecutors. 

But, do indeed visit us, either to comfort or to give us ad- 
vice or even to encourage us, and, especially, to make us better 
by the very sight of you. And what is more important 
pray, and pray earnestly, that our reason may not be sub- 
merged under the flood of evils, but that we may keep our- 
selves acceptable in all respects to God, lest we be counted 
among the wicked servants, giving thanks to Him when He 
bestows His benefits, and not submitting when He teaches 
by the opposite means. But, let us derive profit even from our 
very difficulties, trusting the more in Him when we have more 
need of Him. 

1 Urbkius is a monk about whom nothing is known except for this letter 
and Letter 242. This period, from 372 to 374, was a time of great per- 
sonal suffering for St. Basil. He and St. Gregory of Nazianzus, his life- 
long friend, had become estranged; Theodotus, whom he esteemed 
highly, suspected him of heresy and refused to co-operate with him; he 
at last realized the treachery and ingratitude of Eustathius of Sebaste 
and was forced to break with him; and, finally, his friend, Eusebius 
of Samosata, had been exiled to Thrace by the Emperor Valens. The 
year 373 is assigned as the date of this letter. 


124. To Theodoras 1 

Some say that, if those held captive by the passion of love 
are drawn away from those loved by some unusually urgent 
necessity, whenever they look at a likeness of the beloved 
one they relieve the vehemence of the passion through the 
pleasure derived from the sight. Now, whether this is true 
or not, I cannot say, but what has happened to me with re- 
gard to your Goodness 2 is not very different from this. For, 
since I have, so to say, a certain loving affection for your 
holy and guileless soul, but the enjoyment of my friends, as 
also of any other good, is for us not easy of attainment be- 
cause of the opposition of our sins, I thought that I had per- 
ceived a very distinct image of your Goodness in the presence 
of our most pious brothers. And, if I had happened to meet 
your Nobility 3 apart from them, I would have considered 
that I had seen them also in you, because, I mean, the meas- 
ure of love in each of you is such that there appears equally 
in the case of each an eagerness to excel. I gave thanks to the 
holy God for this, and I pray that, if any span of life is still 
left to me, it may become through you a pleasant life. At 
the present time, however, I consider this existence a wretched 
and detestable thing, since I am separated from the company 
of those nearest and dearest to me. For there is nothing, in 
my opinion, in which anyone may take delight, if he is sepa- 
rated from those who truly love him. 

1 The identity of Theodoras is unknown. This letter was written in 373. 

2 Hagioteta a title of address used by St. Basil in addressing clergy. 

3 Gnesioteti a title of address used by St. Basil for the clergy. 


125. A Transcript of Faith Dictated by the Most Holy Basil, 
Which Eustathius, Bishop of Sebaste, Signed 1 

Those who have either previously accepted another pro- 

1 This letter represents but one step in St. Basil's gradual disillusion- 
ment as to the character of Eustathius of Sebaste. On Eustathius, cf. 
Letters 79 and 119, with notes. The series of incidents leading up to 
St. Basil's break with Eustathius may be described briefly as follows. 
Theodotus, Bishop of Nicopolis, had invited St. Basil to attend a 
synodical meeting at Nicopolis. St. Basil, on his way there, interviewed 
Eustathius, which at once barred him fjom attending the synod. 
Grieved and humiliated at this treatment from Theodotus, St. Basil 
returned home and sought counsel from Eusebius of Samosata. This 
occurred in May, 372 In the following June or July he again returned 
to Armenia, not only to confer with Meletius, but also to comply with 
an order from the emperor to place bishops in the vacant sees of that 
province. Because of the coolness between himself and Theodotus, St. 
Basil went first to Getasa, the home of Meletius, and there, in the pres- 
ence of reliable witnesses, he justified his conduct with Eustathius 
and refuted the accusations of Theodotus. The latter, who was pres- 
ent, maintained that Eustathius had denied any agreement with St. 
Basil's propositions Accordingly, to satisfy Theodotus, St. Basil offered 
to make Eustathius sign a profession of faith containing all the articles 
of the Nicene Creed. Theodotus accepted the plan, and promised to as- 
sist St. Basil in appointing bishops in Armenia. However, upon his ar- 
rival in Nicopolis, Theodotus forgot all that had passed and virtually ex- 
communicated St. Basil. Under these circumstances, St. Basil was pre- 
vented from making the appointments Fatigued, disappointed, and 
grieved over the turn of affairs, he returned home only to find sadly 
neglected conditions in his own diocese. St. Basil made a third visit 
to Armenia in the yeai 373, probably in connection with the ordina- 
tion of Faustus. It was on this trip that the people of Armenia demand- 
ed an assurance of the orthodoxy of Eustathius. St. Basil willingly of- 
fered to go in person to Eustathius and have him sign a profession of 
faith. The present letter was accordingly drafted. Some think it is 
written by St. Basil together with Theodotus, while others believe that 
it has the tone of a synodical decree. At any rate, a meeting was ar- 
ranged and the transcript signed in the presence of witnesses. For St. 
Basil's own account of the signing, cf. Letter 244, sec. 2, But, St. Basil's 
suspicions, once aroused, were not easily allayed. He accordingly pro- 
posed another meeting so that the prelates of Caesarea and Sebaste 
might be united with one another and their communion for the future 
be sincere. Both the place and the date were decided upon, but Eusta- 
thius and his colleagues failed to keep the appointment. In spite of all 
efforts on the part of Eusebius of Samosata to effect a reconciliation 
and finally win Eustathius to the Nicene faith, Eustathius, shortly 
after signing the present letter, renounced communion with St. Basil 


fession of faith and wish to transfer to unity with the ortho- 
dox, or even those who now for the first time wish to be in- 
structed in the doctrine of truth, must be taught the Greed 
written by the blessed Fathers in the synod assembled formerly 
at Nicaea, And the same thing would be useful also for 
those suspected of being opposed to sound doctrine and who 
obscure the meaning of their false teaching by their specious 
subterfuges. For these, also the Creed inserted here is suffi- 
cient. For, either they will correct their hidden disease or, if 
they hide it completely in the depths [of their hearts], they will 
themselves bear the condemnation for their deceit, but will 
prepare for us an easy defense in the Day of Judgment, when 
the Lord will reveal 'the things hidden in darkness and make 
manifest the counsels of hearts. 32 Therefore, it is proper to 
receive them if they profess that they believe according to 
the words set down by our Fathers at Nicaea and according 
to the clearly expressed meaning of these words. 

Now, there are some who are corrupting the doctrine of 
truth in this Creed and are twisting the sense of the words 
in it according to their own will. In fact, even Marcellus, 3 

and openly attacked him on the ground of Apollinarianism, Although 
pained at the duplicity of his former friend, and distressed over his 
false charges, St, Basil for about three years maintained a discreet 
silence. He, then, for the first time, openly defended himself against 
the slanders of Eustathius. CL Letter 223. 

2 1 Cor 4.5. 

3 Marcellus of Ancyra was one of the bishops present at the Councils of 
Ancyra and Nicaea. He was a strong opponent of Arianism, but in his 
zeal to combat Arius adopted the opposite extreme of modified SabeL 
lianism. He was several times condemned, and died, deprived of his 
see, in 374. Marcellus confused the Personality of God, declaring that 
God was originally only one Personality, but at the creation of the 
universe the Word or Logos went out from the Father and was God's 
activity in the world. This Logos became incarnate in Christ and was 
thus constituted Son of God. The Holy Spirit likewise went forth as 
the third Divine Personality from the Father and from Christ accord- 
ing to St John 20.22. At the consummation of all things, however, 
Christ and the Holy Spirit will return to the Father, and the Godhead 
will be again an absolute unity. Cf. Cath. Encyclopedia, under Mar- 
cellus of Ancyra. Cf. also Jerome, De vir. UL 86. 


when speaking impiously against the person 4 of our Lord 
Jesus Christ and explaining Him as mere 'Word,' dared to 
allege by way of excuse that he took his principles from the 
Creed, giving a wrong explanation of the meaning of 'con- 
substantial.' And some from the impious sect of the Libyan 
Sabellius, 5 interpreting 'person' and 'substance* as the same, 
take as the starting point for the fabrication of their blas- 
phemies the fact that it is written in the Creed that, 'if any- 
one says that the Son is from another substance of person, 
the Catholic and Apostolic Church excommunicates him/ 
Now, it is not said in this latter statement that substance and 
person are the same thing. For, if the words expressed one 
and the same idea, what was the need of both of them? But, 
it is evident that, since some deny that the Son is of the sub- 
stance of the Father, and others say that He is not, indeed, 
of the substance but that He is of some other person, they 
thus have rejected both views as foreign to the mind of the 
Church. Now, when [the Fathers] declared their opinion, 
they said that the Son was of the substance of the Father, 
not adding further, c of the person.' Thus, that former state- 
ment is laid down as a rejection of the evil opinion, but this 
latter contains a declaration of the doctrine of salvation. 
Accordingly, it is necessary to confess that the Son is con- 

4 For a definition of the theological terms used in this letter, cf. Letter 8. 

5 Sabellius affirmed that there exists in God only a single person, and 
that this unity or monad constitutes the absolute being of God. When 
the Divine Essence departed from its quiet and inactivity, manifesting 
itself and acting, it was called the Word, It is the Word which created 
the world, and, again, it is the Word which undertook the salvation 
of humanity. For this work it took three successive modes of existence: 
three aspects (prdsdpa) , three denominations (ondmata) , correspond- 
ing to the three economies which succeed each other in the order of 
salvation: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But, these three modes of ex- 
istence are transitory and accidental. Each of them is to cease at the 
same time as the object which necessitates each. 


substantial with the Father, as it is written, and to confess 
the Father in His own Person, the Son in His own, and the 
Holy Spirit in His own, just as [the Fathers] themselves have 
clearly explained, For, they proved sufficiently and clearly 
by saying 'Light from Light' that the One is the Light which 
begot, and the Other the Light which was begotten, truly 
Light and Light; so that the meaning of substance [in regard 
to the Father and to the Son] is one and the same. At this 
point, let us insert also the very Creed which was written at 

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all 
things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father, that 
is, of the substance of the Father; God of God, Light of 
Light, true God of true God; begotten, not made; consub- 
stantial with the Father, by whom all things were made both 
in heaven and on earth. Who for us men and our salvation 
came down; and was incarnate and was made man; suffered, 
and rose again on the third day; He ascended into heaven, 
and is coming to judge the living and the dead; and in the 
Holy Spirit. But as for those who say There was once a 
time when He was not, 5 and 'Before He was begotten He 
was not,* and that 5 He was made from what was not,' or 
affirm that the Son of God is of another person or substance, 
or that He is capable of change or variation, such persons the 
Catholic and Apostolic Church excommunicates. 

Whereas, then, the other doctrines are here fully and ac- 
curately defined, some for the correction of what has already 
been perverted, others for a protection against what may be 
expected to arise, nevertheless the doctrine concerning the 
Holy Spirit is laid down very briefly as requiring no dis- 
cussion, because at that time this question had not yet been 
stirred up, but the concept of it remained unchallenged in 


the souls of the faithful. Little by little, however, the wicked 
seeds of impiety increased. These were formerly thrown down 
by Anus, the author of heresy, and later they were fostered 
by his evil successors, to the detriment of the churches, and 
the consequent impiety suddenly burst into blasphemy against 
the Spirit. So, before those who have no consideration for 
themselves and do not take thought of the inevitable threat 
which our Lord held out for those who blaspheme against 
the Holy Spirit it is necessary to set forth this statement: that 
we must excommunicate those who say that the Holy Spirit 
is a creature; also, those who think so; and those who do 
not confess that He is holy by nature, as the Father is holy 
by nature and the Son holy by nature, but exclude Him from 
the divine and blessed nature. And, a proof of orthodox 
opinion is not to separate Him from the Father and the Son 
(for we must be baptized as we have received the words; and 
we must believe as we are baptized; and we must give glory 
as we have believed, to the Father, and to the Son, and to 
the Holy Spirit), but to withdraw from the communion of 
those who call Him a creature, on the ground that they are 
clearly blasphemers. Since this has been agreed upon (for 
the comment is necessary because of the slanderers), that 
we do not say that the Holy Spirit is either unbegotten for 
we know one Unbegotten and one Beginning of things in 
existence, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ nor begot- 
ten for we are taught in the tradition of faith that there is 
one Only-begotten then, having been taught that the- Spirit 
of Truth proceeds from the Father, we confess that He is 
from God without being created. And we must also excom- 
municate those who say that the Holy Spirit is of the min- 
istering order, on the ground that by this word they reduce 
Him to the rank of a creature. For the Scripture has handed 
down to us the ministering spirits as creatures, saying: 'All 


are ministering spirits, sent for service. 56 Now, because of 
those who mix up everything and do not preserve the teach- 
ing in the Gospels, we must add this further principle: that 
it is necessary to shun those, also, as being openly in opposi- 
tion to piety, who change the sequence which the Lord 
handed down to us, placing the Son before the Father, and 
putting the Holy Spirit before the Son. In fact, we must pre- 
serve unaltered and inviolable the sequence which we re- 
ceived from the very words of the Lord, who said: 'Go, 
therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them 
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy 
Spirit. 57 

Signature of Eustathius, Bishop 

I, Bishop Eustathius, having read this aloud to you, Basil, 
have understood and have agreed with what is written above. 
Moreover, I have signed it in the presence of my brothers, our 
Fronto, 8 and the suffragan bishop Severus, 9 and some other 
members of the clergy as well. 

6 Cf. Heb. 1.14. St. Basil does not give the full quotation. 

7 Matt. 28.19. 

8 Fronto was a priest under the jurisdiction of Theodotus, Bishop of 
Nicopolis, to whose see he was elevated after the latter's death. How- 
ever, he did not possess Theodotus' firmness of character, for he fell into 

9 Known only from this passage. 


126. To Atarbius 1 

We came to Nicopolis in the hope of correcting the dis- 
orders which had been stirred up and of applying a possible 
remedy to what had been done irregularly and contrary to 
ecclesiastical law. And we were exceedingly disappointed 
when we did not find your Excellency on our arrival, but 
learned that you had gone out in all haste, even though the 
synod which you were holding was scarcely half finished. 
On this account we have been compelled to write a letter, 
through which we suggest that you meet us in order that you 
may personally relieve our grief, by which we are distressed 
even to the point of death. For, we have heard that in the 
midst of the Church you have dared actions which have never 
before this day come to our hearing. And, even though these 
things are both painful and grievous, they are still endurable 
because they have been done against a man who, having en- 
trusted to God the vengeance for what he has suffered, is 
wholly desirous of peace and of having nothing harmful hap- 
pen through his own fault to the people of God. 

But, some of the brethren who are held in honor and worthy 
of all trust have reported to us that you have made some 
innovations concerning the faith and have talked in a man- 
ner contrary to sound doctrine. They have been aroused the 
more on this account and exceedingly distressed, lest in ad- 
dition to these countless wounds with which the Church has 

1 For Atarbius, Bishop of Neo-Caesarea, cf* Letter 65. Although related 
to St. Basil, he was the leader of the Neo-Caesareans in their revolt 
against St. Basil. Cf, Letter 207. This letter is a good example of St. 
Basil's firm and tactful manner of dealing with those who had failed 
against the orthodoxy of the faith or had wronged him. It was written 
in 373. 


been afflicted by those who have erred against the truth of 
the Gospel, still another evil should rise up by the renewal of 
the old heresy of Sabellius, 2 the enemy of the Church (for the 
brothers have announced to us that the statements made are 
of the same nature as this). For this reason we have written, 
In order that you may not hesitate to bestir yourself for this 
short journey and to come to us, and, by giving satisfaction 
regarding these matters, both to assuage our pain and to con- 
sole the churches of God, which are now grieved unbear- 
ably and harshly at what has been done and what has been 
reported to have been said by you. 

127. To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 1 

Our loving God, who adds consolations commensurate 
with our afflictions and comforts the downcast that they may 
not be overwhelmed unawares by their excessive grief, has 
afforded us a consolation equal to the disorders which as- 
sailed us at Nicopolis. For, He has brought in at an opportune 
moment Jovinus, a bishop dearly beloved of God. And how 
very opportune for us was his appearance let him tell per- 

2 Cf. Letter 125 n. 5. 

1 All the information which we have of Eusebius of Samosata has been 
gathered from the letters of St. Basil and St. Gregory of Nazianzus. 
He was instrumental in the consecration of Meletius as Bishop of 
Antioch, and was his staunch supporter during the long years of schism 
and exile. It was through his efforts, likewise, that St. Basil was elevated 
to the see of Caesarea. This was the beginning of a mutual and un- 
broken friendship. After Easter, 374, Eusebius was exiled to Thrace. 
He was recalled in 378, and on his return to Samosata was martyred. 
Previous letters addressed to him are Letters 27, 30, 31, 34, 47, 48, 95, 
98, and 100. Shortly after St. Basil's return from Nicopolis, whither he 
had gone to investigate the trouble caused by the uncanonical conse- 
cration of Faustus, Jovinus paid him a visit and rallied to his support. 
Jovinus himself is apparently the bearer of this letter, telling the good 
news to Eusebius. This letter was written about 373. 


sonally. We shall be silent that we may be sparing in the 
length of our letter, and also that we may not seem, by the 
mention of their fault, to hold up to public scorn, as It were, 
those who by a change of heart have become dear to us. 

But, may the holy God grant that you will come to our 
district so that I may embrace your Grace and recount every- 
thing in detail. For, it is natural somehow for things which 
have grieved us when we experienced them to afford some 
gratification when we relate them. But, for those matters con- 
cerning which the bishop, dearly beloved of God, was stirred 
to action most successfully as far as regards his love toward us, 
but primarily and also unyieldingly as far as regards the 
strict observance of the canons, praise him; and give thanks 
to the Lord, that everywhere your disciples show the char- 
acteristics of your Dignity. 

128. To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 1 

I have not yet been able worthily to give practical proof 
of my zeal for reconciling the churches of the Lord. But I 
protest that I have in my heart so great a desire that I would 
even gladly deliver up my own life to extinguish the flame of 
hatred kindled by the Evil One. And, if I wished to approach 
the regions of Colonia 2 not through the desire for peace, may 
my life not be spent in peace. The peace I seek, of course, 
is the true peace left to us by the Lord Himself; and what I 
asked to be given to me as an assurance 3 is what one would 

1 For Eusebius, see preceding letter. This letter is in reply to Eusebius, 
who was attempting to effect a reconciliation between St. Basil and 
Eustathius of Sebaste. On Eustathius of Sebaste, cf. Letter 19 n. L 

2 Letters 227 and 228 are addressed to the clergy and magistrates of 
Colonia in Armenia. This was probably the place in which Eustathius 
of Sebaste was to subscribe to the Creed as defined in Letter 125. 

3 I.e , of the orthodoxy of Eustathius of Sebaste 


ask who desires nothing else than the true peace, even though 
some persons 4 perverting the truth interpret otherwise. Let 
those, therefore, use their tongues for whatever they wish; 
at some time, assuredly, they will repent of these words. 

But, I urge your Holiness to remember the questions pro- 
posed from the beginning, and not to be misled into accept- 
ing answers for other questions, nor to sanction the sophisms 
of those who most terribly of all men are falsifying the truth, 
without the ability to speak from their mere opinion alone. 
For I have put forward propositions that are simple, clear, 
and easy to remember: whether we reject for communion 
those who do not accept the Nicene Creed, and whether we 
refuse to have any part with those who dare to say that the 
Holy Spirit is a creature. Yet, instead of answering the ques- 
tions to the point, he repeated to us by heart those state- 
ments which you had written to us; and he did not do this 
through any simplicity of mind, as one might think, nor 
through inability to be aware of the consequences. Now, he 
supposes that, by denying our proposition, he will make his 
position evident to the people; but, if he agrees with us, he 
will withdraw from the middle course, than which up to 
the present time nothing has been more precious to him. 
Therefore, let him not lead us astray by sophisms nor de- 
ceive your Wisdom along with the rest, but let him send to 
us a concise answer to the question, either confessing com- 
munion with the enemies of the faith, or denying it. If you 
will persuade him to do this, and send me answers which are 
correct and such as I pray for, I am the one who has been 
completely wrong in the past. I take all the blame upon my- 

4 These are probably the two monks, Basil and Sophronius, who had been 
recommended to St. Basil by Eustathius, and who had been spreading 
calumnies against St. Basil. Cl Letter 119. 


self. Then demand of me a proof of humility. But, as long 
as none of these things is done, pardon me, Father, dearly 
beloved of God, for not being able to stand at the altar of 
God with hypocrisy. For, if I did not fear this hypocrisy, 
why did I separate myself from Euippius, 5 a man of such 
great learning, so advanced in age, and possessing so many 
just claims of friendship with us? And if we then acted nobly 
and properly in behalf of the truth, it would surely be absurd 
to seem to be in union with those who make the same decla- 
rations as he did through the mediation of these clever and 
charming men. 

Yet, it does not seem best to me to alienate ourselves al- 
together from those who do not accept the faith, but to show 
some concern for these men according to the ancient laws 
of charity, and to write to them with one accord, setting forth 
every exhortation with compassion, and holding out the faith 
of the Fathers to invite them to unity. And, if we convince 
them, we should be united with them in communion, but, 
if we fail, we should be content with one another and banish 
the uncertainty from our spirit, taking up the evangelical and 
guileless life in which they live who from the beginning yielded 
themselves to the Word. For, He said: The believers were 
of one heart and one soul' 6 If, therefore, they heed you, that 
is best. But, if not, be assured that they are warmongers, and 
stop writing to us for the future about reconciliations. 

5 Euippius was a bishop with tendencies to Arianism, from whom St. Basil 
had left himself obliged to separate altogether. Cf. Letter 56. Eusta- 
thius of Sebaste, in 360, violently denounced Euippius as not worthy 
to be a bishop, but m 376 Eustathius united with him and recognized 
the bishops and presbyters he had ordained. Cf. Letters 226, 239, 244, 
and 251. 

6 Cf. Acts 4.32. 


129. To Meletius, Bishop of Antioch 1 

I knew that the present charge brought against Apol- 
linaris, 2 who Is so prone to say anything, would astonish the 
ears of your Perfection. In fact, I myself, until now, was not 
conscious that he had been accused. At present, however, the 
citizens of Sebasteia, after making investigations in some 
place or other, have produced these statements and are 
carrying a document, through which they are also trying to 
condemn us especially, on the ground that we hold the same 
opinions. It contains such expressions as these: 'Therefore, 
it is necessary to conceive the first identity always conjoint- 
ly, or, rather, in union with the difference; saying that the 
second and the third are the same. For, what the Father is 
first, this the Son is secondly, and the Spirit thirdly. But 
again, what the Spirit Is first, this the Son is secondly, in as 
far as the Lord is also the Spirit; and the Father thirdly, in 
as far as the Spirit is God.' And, to interpret this horrible 
saying more forcefully: 'that the Father is paternally the 

1 St. Meletius, Bishop of Antioch, was born in Melitene in Lesser Ar- 
menia, and died at Antioch in 381. He apparently believed that truth 
lay in delicate distinctions, but his formula was so indefinite that it 
is difficult even today to grasp it clearly. He was neither a thorough 
Nicene nor a decided Arian, and he passed alternately as an Anomean, 
a Homoiousian, a Homoian, or a Neo-Nicene, seeking always to re- 
main outside any inflexible classification. After his death his name long 
remained for the Eastern faithful a rallying sign and a synonym of 
orthodoxy. It is in this letter that St. Basil, in refuting the charge 
of teaching heresy, names Apollinaris as the author of the document 
which is being attributed to himself. The Benedictines assign this letter 
to the year 373. Loofs presents rather unconvincing evidence to prove 
that this and the following one were written in the summer of 375. 

2 Apolimaris the Younger, Bishop of Laodicea, flourished during the last 
half of the fourth century. He was at first highly esteemed by St. Basil 
and St. Athanasius for his classical culture, piety, and steadfastness to 
the Nicene Creed. Later, he taught that Christ had a human body 
and a human sensitive soul, but no rational mind, the Divine Logos 
taking the place of the last. 


Son, and the Son is filially the Father, and in like manner 
as regards the Spirit, in so far as the Trinity is one God.' 

These are the expressions that are being bruited about. 
I can never believe that they are the inventions of those cir- 
culating them, although from their slanders against us I 
think that there is nothing they have not dared. In fact, when 
they wrote to some of their own followers, after adding the 
slander against us they introduced these statements, specify- 
ing that they were the words of heretics but not revealing the 
author of the document, in order that we might be consid- 
ered by many to be the writer. However, their inventiveness 
would not have gone so far as to compose these words, I 
am convinced. Therefore, in order to disclaim the charge of 
blasphemy which was current against us, and to manifest 
to all that there is nothing in common between us and those 
who make these statements, we have been compelled to men- 
tion that man 3 as one who is approaching the impiety of 
Sabellius. 4 So much, then, for this matter. 

However, there has come from the court a messenger an- 
nouncing that, after the first resolution of the emperor, to 
which those who were pouring out slanders against us had 
roused him, a second thought had occurred to him, so that, 
as a result, we were not given over to the accusers nor were 
we surrendered to their will, as had been determined at first; 
at least, up to the present, there has been some delay. Now, 
whether matters remain the same, or whether something more 
lenient is decided, we shall make known to your Reverence. 
And, if the former measure prevails, this also will not be 
hidden from you. 

No doubt, the brother Sanctissimus has been with you for 
a long time, and what he is seeking has been made known to 

3 I. e., Apollmaris. 

4 Foi Sabellius, cf. Letter 125 n. 5. 


your Perfection. If, then, the letter to the Western bishops 
seems to contain anything urgent, be so kind as to draft it 
and send it on to us, so that we may get it signed by those 
who are of like mind with us, and may have ready the sub- 
scription drawn up on a separate sheet. This we can fasten 
to it when it is being carried around by the brother, our fel- 
low presbyter. For, since I found nothing important in the 
memorandum, I did not have anything to write to those in 
the West. In fact, the necessary points have been taken up 
before, and to write superfluities is absolutely foolish. And 
would it not be ridiculous to be a nuisance about the same 

This, however, seemed to me to be some untouched mater- 
ial, as it were, and to offer grounds for a letter- to urge them 
not to receive without investigation the communion of those 
coming from the East, but, having once chosen one part, 
to receive the rest on the testimony of those who are already 
in communion and not to associate themselves with every- 
one who writes the Creed on a pretense, indeed, of orthodoxy. 
For, thus they will find themselves in communion with those 
who are at odds with each other, who frequently put for- 
ward the same statements of doctrine, but fight with one an- 
other as violently as those who are most widely at variance. 
In order, then, that the heresy may not be further enkindled 
when those who are in disagreement with each other bring 
forward their opposing formulae, the bishops of the West 
must be urged to make a distinction as regards their com- 
munion with chance-comers and communion established 
by written document according to the regulation of the 
Church. 5 

5 From this passage and Letter 224 the Benedictine editors perceive two 
kinds of communion the first, personal, in the Eucharist and prayer; 
the second, by letter. 


750. To Theodotus, Bishop of Nicopolis 1 

Deservedly and fittingly have you reproached us, our truly 
most honorable and beloved brother, because from the time 
that we departed from your Reverence carrying those prop- 
ositions concerning the faith to Eustathius, 2 we have let 
you know nothing either little or great about his affairs. How- 
ever, I did not overlook the matter on the ground that the 
acts which he committed against us were negligible, but be- 
cause the report had been published abroad to all men al- 
ready, and there was no need of any explanation from us to 
learn the intention of the man. For, he even contrived this 
himself, as if fearing lest he might have few witnesses of his 
views, sending the letters which he had written against us 
to every farthest corner of the world. At all events, he has 
cut himself off from communion with us, since he refused to 
meet us at the appointed place and did not bring his disciples 
as he had promised, but, together with the Cilician Theo- 
philus,'' even denounced us in the general synods, saying with 
plain and undisguised slander that we were sowing in the souls 
of the people doctrines which were foreign to his teachings. 

1 Theodotus, Bishop of Nicopolis, a staunch friend of St. Basil, died in 
375 He is mentioned in Letters 92, 95, 99, 121, 229, and 237. For the 
date of this letter, see Letter 129 n. 1. 

2 Eustathius of Sebaste (300-377) . He was Bishop of Sebaste in 356 and 
was one of the founders of monasticism. He had studied under Arms 
and was all his life inclined toward Semi-Arianism. St. Basil had been 
a close friend of his until about 372 or 373, when he learned the real 
chaiacter of the man. Eustathius had once signed the Nicene Creed, 
for he had gone with Theophilus and Silvanus on a mission to Rome in 
365-366, and they had acknowledged their adherence to the Nicene 
Creed before Pope Liberius. Cf. Letter 245. However, he seems to have 
been a vacillating character and to have signed practically all the creeds 
of his age. 

3 Theophilus was Bishop of Castabala or Hieropolis on the River Pyra- 
mis in Cilicia, where he had been transferred from Eleutheropolis. Cf. 
Letters 244 and 245. He was on friendly terms with St. Basil at one 
time, and was sent to Rome on an embass\. See note above. 


Now, this was, in truth, sufficient to dissolve all our connection 
with him. Furthermore, when he had come into Cilicia 
where he met a certain Gelasius, 4 he offered him a creed 
which could have been written by an Arius only or some 
true disciple of his; then we were even more firmly fixed in 
our separation. For, we considered that neither will the 
Ethiopian ever change his skin, nor the leopard his spots, 5 
nor can he who has been nourished with perverse doctrines 
get rid of the evil of heresy. 

Moreover, in addition to this he has committed further 
outrages by writing against us, or, rather, by composing long 
treatises full of every abuse and slander. Up to this time we 
have made no answer concerning them because we have been 
taught by the Apostle 8 not to avenge ourselves but to give 
place to the wrath. At the same time, too, reflecting on the 
depths of the hypocrisy which always marked his dealings 
with us, we were seized with a sort of speechlessness in our 

But, even if there had been none of those abuses, in whom 
would this recent bold act which he dared have not inspired 
absolute horror and aversion for the man? He has even, as I 
hear (at least, if the report is true and is not a fiction based 
on slander), had the effrontery to reordain some men, a thing 
which until today no one of the heretics appears to have done. 
How, then, is it possible for us to endure such acts calmly, 
and to think that the errors of the man can be remedied? 
Do not, therefore, be misled by his lying words, and do not 
trust the suspicions of men who easily accept everything in 
a bad sense, as, for insance, that we regard such matters 
as indifferent. For, be assured, most beloved and honorable 

4 This Gelasius is otherwise unknown. 

5 Cf. Jer. 13,23. 

6 Cf. Rom. 12.19. 


friend, that I am not aware that I have ever, at any time, 
suffered such sorrow in my soul as now, when I have heard 
of the violation of the ecclesiastical laws. Only pray that the 
Lord may grant us the grace to do nothing through anger, 
but to have charity which is not ambitious, is not puffed 
up. 7 For, see how those who did not have it have been lifted 
up beyond human limits, and are ambitious in their lives, 
daring bold deeds of which the past holds no such examples. 8 

131. To Olympius 1 

Truly, hearing of unexpected events is enough to make the 
two ears of a man ring. And this has now happened to me. 
For, although the news of those writings being circulated 
against us fell on my ears already inured to it, because I my- 
self had formerly received the letter, which befits my sins but 
is certainly not what I had ever expected to be written by 
those who sent it, nevertheless, the second reports appeared 
to us to have such excessive bitterness in them as to over- 
shadow the previous ones entirely. How was it possible that 
I was not almost out of my mind on reading the letter to the 
most pious brother Dazinas, 2 full of countless insults and un- 

7 Cf. 1 Cor. 13.4.5. 

8 The Benedictine editors remark that St. Basil is incorrect in maintain- 
ing that there was no heretical precedent for such actions. The Arians 
are accused of it in the Book of the Prayers of Faustus and Marcellmus, 
Bib. Pat. V 655. Cf., also, Constantius' letter to the Ethiopians against 
Frumentius; Athan., Apol. ad Const. SI. 

1 A wealthy layman of Neo-Caesarea, and an intimate friend of St. Basil. 
The subject matter is the same as that of the preceding letters. The 
date of this letter is about the year 373. Other letters \vntten to Olym- 
pius are Letters 4, 12, 13, and 211. 

2 In this letter Eustathius accused St. Basil of bad faith and of Apoili- 
narian errors. 


bearable charges and attacks against us, as if we had been 
found engaged in most hurtful plots against the Church? 
For instance, even proofs that the slanders against me are 
true were brought forward from a document written by I 
know not whom. Now, parts, in truth, I admit I recognized 
had been written by Apollinaris 3 of Laodicea, not because I 
had ever read them in his book, but because I heard others 
mention them. But, I found some other things included 
which I neither read at any time nor heard another speak of 
and there is a faithful Witness of these statements in heaven. 
How it can be, then, that men who turn away from false- 
hood, who have been taught that love is the fulfillment of 
the law, who profess that they bear the infirmities of the 
powerless, have allowed themselves to bring these slanders 
against us and to condemn us from the writings of others, is 
a thing for which, although I have pondered much, I am 
not able to conceive the reason, except that, as I said from 
the beginning, I have decided that the pain from these worries 
is a part of the chastisement due to me because of my sins. 
Now, at first I grieved in my soul because truths were held 
of so little account by the sons of mm. But then, also, I 
feared concerning myself, lest ever, in addition to my other 
sins, I should be disposed to a hatred of mankind, consider- 
ing that there is nothing trustworthy in any man, if, indeed, 
those trusted by me in the most important matters showed 
themselves so unfaithful toward me and so unfaithful in re- 
gard to truth itself. Be assured, therefore, brother, and every- 
one who is a friend of the truth, that the writings are not 
mine, nor do I approve of them, since they have not been 
drawn up according to my views. Even if I did write formerly 
many years ago to Apollinaris or to anyone else, I ought 
not to be blamed. For, I myself do not bring any charge 

3 For Apollinaris, cf. Letter 129 n. Z 


if anyone is cut off for heresy from any brotherhood (and you 
certainly know the men, even if I do not mention them by 
name), because each one will die by his own sin. 

Now, I have given this answer to the document that was 
sent, in order that you yourself may know the truth and 
make it clear to those who do not wish to withhold the truth 
unjustly. And, if it is necessary to speak more at length in de- 
fense of each of the charges brought against us, we shall, 
with God's help, do that, also. We, Brother Olympius, neither 
say that there are three gods, nor are we in communion with 
Apollinaris. 4 

132. To Abramius, Bishop of Batnae 1 

Since late autumn I have not known where your Rev- 
erence was living. In fact, I was getting varied reports, since 
some were announcing that your Reverence was tarrying in 
Samosata, and others in the country; still others were affirming 
that they had seen you around Batnae itself. Therefore, I 
did not continue to write. But, now, since I have learned that 
you are staying at Antioch, in the home of the most revered 
Count Saturninus, 2 I have readily given thls^ letter to the 
most beloved and most pious brother Sanctissimus, our fellow 
presbyter. Through him I greet your Charity, urging you, 

4 Cf. Letter 125; also, Greg. Naz., Orat. 1 and 29. 

1 Abraimus or Abram was Bishop of Batnae in Osrhoene, near the Eu- 
phrates. His name appears with those of Meletius, Eusebius, St. Basil, 
and others in the letter written by the bishops of the East to those of 
Italy and Gaul. Cf. Letter 92. He was also present at the Council of 
Constantinople in 381. The Benedictines place this letter as of the 
year 373. Loofs, op. at. 28ff and 46ff, prefers the spring of 375 as the 
date of its composition. 

2 This Saturninus is otherwise unknown. 


wherever you may be, to be mindful first of all of God, and 
then of us, whom from the beginning you chose to love and 
to hold numbered among your most intimate friends. 

133. To Peter, Bishop of Alexandria 1 

Eyes are the promoters of sensuous friendship, and the in- 
timacy engendered through a long stretch of time strength- 
ens it. But, the gift of the Spirit brings about true love, joining 
together things separated by long distances and making known 
the beloved ones to each other not through physical char- 
acteristics but through the peculiar qualities of the soul. This, 
indeed, the grace of the Lord has accomplished in our case, 
allowing us to see you with the eyes of our soul and to em- 
brace you with true charity, and, as it were, to be joined 
with you and to come into one union through the communion 
of our faith. For, we are convinced that you, being the disciple 
of such a man 2 and having enjoyed long association with 
him, walk in the same spirit and agree with the same doctrines 
of piety. 

- Therefore, we salute -your Honor and we exhort you to 
succeed the great man in his affection for us among other 
things, to write regularly to us news of yourself, and to give 
heed to the brotherhood everywhere with the same kind- 
ness and the same zeal which that most blessed one em- 
ployed toward all those who in truth loved God. 

1 This Peter, at the request of St. Athanasius, succeeded him on his 
death in May, 373. This letter was written in that same year. 

2 St. Athanasius. 


134. To the Presbyter Paeonius 1 

You can undoubtedly imagine from what \ou wrote how 
much your letter delighted us, so clearly apparent from the 
contents was the purity of heart from which those words 
came forth. For, as the stream reveals its own source, so the 
nature of the speech reveals the character of the heart which 
has brought it forth. Therefore, I confess that I have ex- 
perienced something extraordinary and far different from 
what seemed likely. I am always eager to receive news from 
your Perfection, but, when I took your letter into my hands 
and read it, I was not more pleased with what you had 
written than I was grieved at considering how great a loss 
had befallen me during your period of silence. 

But, since you have begun to write, do not cease doing so, 
for you give more delight than do those who send much 
money to the lovers of wealth. But, there has not been a 
scribe near me neither a calligraphist nor a shorthand writer. 
For, of those whom I happen to have trained, some have re- 
turned to their former manner of life and others, being af- 
flicted with chronic ailments, have given up the work. 

1 Paeonius is unknown except through this letter. St. Basil here refers 
to the calligraphists and tachygraphists whom he has trained Letters 
134, 135, 223, 333, and 334 have been quoted in some studies of stenog- 
raphv. A. Schramm ('Korrespondenzblatt.' Amtliche Zeitschr des k. 
Stenographischen Instituts zu Dresden 48 (1903) 221 and 241 ff) would 
conclude from the present letter that St. Basil himself was a master of 
tachygraphy, and did not scorn to give instructions in it. F. Maier 
(idem, 49 (1904) 42ff.) rightly objects to this conclusion. In anv case, 
St. Basil employed tachygraphy and had his difficulties with it Cf. the 
present letter and Letter 135. This letter was written in 373. 


135. To Diodorus, Presbyter of Antioch 1 

I have read the books sent by your Honor. And I have 
really enjoyed the second one very much, not only because 
of its brevity, as would one who is lazily disposed toward 
everything and at present without health, but because it is 
at one and the same time close-packed with ideas and ex- 
plicit as to the objections of opponents and answers to them. 
Moreover, the simplicity of the style and the absence of elab- 
oration seemed to me to be proper to the purpose of a 
Christian, who writes more for the general good than for 
show. But the first one, which has the same importance of 
subject matter but *which is polished off with more extrava- 
gant style, varied figures of speech, and charming dialogue, 
seemed to me to require not only a long time for the reading 
but also much mental labor for gathering the ideas and keep- 
ing them in memory. Indeed, although the charges of our 
opponents and also the convincing evidence of our side in- 
serted in the work seem to introduce some dialectic charms 
in the treatise, nevertheless, by causing a pause and a waste 
of time, they break up the continuity of the thought and 
weaken the force of the argumentative speech. 

For, assuredly, your Intelligence is aware of this that those 
of the heathen philosophers who wrote dialogues, Aristotle 
and Theophrastus, for instance, immediately attacked the 

1 Diodorus was a pupil of Silvanus, Bishop of Tarsus. Cf. Theodoret, 
Hist. EccL 4.24. In Letter 16, Theodoret speaks of his obligations to 
him as a teacher. Diodorus became Bishop of Tarsus in 378. Only a few 
fragments of his works are extant; the greater part is said to have been 
destroyed by the Arians. Cf., also, St. Basil's Letter 160. This letter con- 
tains St. Basil's ideas on the rhetoric of his day. They are similar to 
what a person of good taste would hold today, although they probably 
did not correspond with those of his contemporaries. Certainly, St. 
Basil's own works show that his practice was consistent with his views. 
This letter was written in 373. 


arguments themselves, because they realized their lack of the 
literary graces of Plato. But, Plato with his power of elo- 
quence both assails the opinions and at the same time sati- 
rizes incidentally the persons, attacking the rashness and reck- 
lessness of Thrasyrnachus, the levity of mind and frivolity of 
Hippias, and the boastfulness and pompousness of Protago- 
ras. 2 But, when he introduces indefinite characters into his 
dialogues, he uses the speakers in order to clarify his points, 
and he brings nothing else from the characters into the argu- 
ments. This is particularly what he did in the Laws. 

Therefore, since we set out to write, not for love of honor, 
but because we wish to leave behind for the brethren some 
counsels on useful subjects, if we bring in any person who is 
well known by all for his surly disposition, we also must 
weave into our speech some of the natural qualities of the 
person, if it actually is our duty to censure men who neglect 
their obligations. But, if the matter of the dialogue is indefi- 
nite, the digressions against persons disrupt the unity and tend 
to no useful end. 

I have said all this in order that it may be shown that you 
have not sent your works to the hands of a flatterer, but have 
shared your toils with a most sincere brother. And I have 
not spoken for the correction of what has already been written, 
but for a precaution in regard to what shall be written. For, 
certainly, he who employs such skill and zeal in writing will 
not hesitate to write, since those who supply the subject 
matter do not cease doing so. Moreover, for us it will suffice 
to read your works, but we fall as far short of being able to 
write anything as, I may almost say, of being healthy, or 
even of enjoying some reasonable leisure from our occupa- 

I have at present sent back the first and larger book by 

2 I e , in the Republic, the Hippias, and the Protagoras, respectively. 


my reader, since I have gone through it as far as I was able. 
But the second one I have retained, as I wish to copy it and 
I do not have available for a while my fast copyist. To this 
state of poverty have the once envied fortunes of the Cap- 
padocians come! 

136. To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 1 

In what condition the excellent Isaac 2 found us, he, better 
than I, will describe to you in person, even though he does 
not have a tongue able to report in tragic manner the exce- 
siveness of my sufferings; such was the gravity of my illness. 
But, in all probability, this is known to everyone who is ac- 
quainted with me ever so little. For, if, when in apparent 
good health, I have always been weaker than those whose 
lives are despaired of, it is possible to realize in what a state 
I was during my illness. Yet (now pardon one who is talking 
nonsense in his fever), since sickness has been natural to me, I 
should now be enjoying in my present change of condition 
the best of good health. But, since it is the scourge of the 
Lord which augments our sufferings by additional trials ac- 
cording to our deserts, I have acquired one infirmity after 
another. The consequence of this is evident even to a child 
that this bodily shell of ours must certainly go hence, un- 
less, perhaps, the loving kindness of God, granting us in His 
forbearance time for repentance, would also now, as fre- 
quently before, bring about some release and a way of es- 
cape from inconceivable sufferings. At all events, these matters 
will be as is pleasing to Him and beneficial to us. 

As to how the affairs of the churches have been ruined 

I For Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata, cf. Letter 27 n. 1. 
i! Otherwise unknown 


and heedlessly sacrificed while we neglect for the sake of our 
security the affairs of our neighbors, and are not even able 
to perceive this that private interests also perish in a public 
disaster what need I say? And, above all, to you, a man 
who, foreseeing everything from afar, both protested and 
made proclamations beforehand, and not only were yourself 
the first to rise up but also helped to rouse others, writing 
them letters, making personal visits, omitting no act, leaving 
unuttered no word ! These things we remember as each event 
occurs, but we are no longer benefitted by them. Even now, 
if my sins had not stood in my way in the first place, the 
most pious and beloved brother Eustathius, 3 our fellow dea- 
con, falling into a serious illness, delayed me for two whole 
months while I waited day after day for his return to health; 
and then all my companions became ill, the remaining details 
of which the brother Isaac will recount; and, finally, I my- 
self was tied down by this sickness I would have been with 
your Honor long ago, not offering any help for the common 
interests, but getting great profit for myself from my inter- 
course with you. For, I had determined to be out of reach of 
the ecclesiastical darts because of my lack of protection against 
the intrigues of our adversaries. May the mighty hand of 
God preserve you for all mankind, the noble guardian of the 
faith, the watchful protector of the churches, and may He 
consider us worthy before our death of an interview with 
you for the advantage of our soul. 

3 This deacon enjoyed St. Basil's confidence, and once before conveyed 
a letter for him to Eusebius of Samosata. Cf. Letter 47. 


137. To Antipater 1 

At present, I seem to be especially sensible of the loss which 
I suffer by my illness, when during the administration of our 
country by such a great man I myself am compelled to be 
absent because of the care I must give my body. For a whole 
month already I have been taking the treatments of the 
natural hot springs in the hope of receiving some benefit 
from them. But, I seem to labor in vain in the solitude, or 
even to appear to most people to be deserving of ridicule, 
as one who does not understand the proverb which says : 'Hot 
springs are of no use to the dead.' 

Now, even though I am in such a state, I desire, disre- 
garding everything else, to come to visit your Grace, so as 
to enjoy your noble qualities, and through your integrity to 
settle in a proper manner the affairs of my house. For, the 
home of our most revered 2 mother Palladia is my own, since 
not only family relationship joins her to us but also the kind- 
liness of her character has caused her to take the place of a 
mother to us. Therefore, since some commotion has been 
stirred up about her house, we ask your Lordship to defer 
the examination for a little while and to await our arrival, 
not so that justice may be thwarted (for I would prefer 
to die ten thousand times rather than ask such a favor from 
a judge who is devoted to the laws and to justice), but that 
you ma\ know from me by word of mouth those matters 
which it is not proper for me to write. In fact, in this way 
you yourself will not go astray from the truth nor will we 
suffer anything contrary to our will. I ask, then, as the per- 

1 Antipater is the Governor of Cappadocia to whom St. Basil is recom- 
mending the protection of his old friend and relative, Palladia. Cf. 
Letters 186 and 187. Palladia is otherwise unknown. This letter was 
written in 373. 

2 Semnotdtes a title of distinction used by St. Basil. 


son is in safe custody and is held by the soldiers, to grant 
us this favor, a favor free from offense and from reproach. 

138. To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 1 

How do you think I felt when I received the letter from 
your Reverence? Considering the spirit of your message, I 
immediately wanted to fly straight to Syria,' but, looking at 
the weakness of my body, which fettered me, I perceived that 
I was incapable not only of flying but even of turning over 
in bed. For, that day on which the beloved and zealous broth- 
er, our fellow deacon Eipidius, 2 came to us was the fiftieth 
day of my illness. I was much exhausted by the fever which, 
because of lack of material to nourish it, concentrated itself 
in this dry flesh as in a burnt wick and brought on a decline 
and a long-continued weakness. Then, immediately, my for- 
mer plague, this liver complaint, succeeding, turned me away 
from food, chased away sleep from my eyes, and held me on 
the border line between life and death, permitting me to live 
only so much as to be sensible of the hardships of life. And, 
so, I have not only made use of the hot springs but have also 
received some treatments from doctors. But, this mighty evil 
has got the best of all these. Another, indeed, might bear it 
if he were accustomed to it, but, when it makes an unex- 
pected assault, no one is so invincible as to stand it. 

Although I have been troubled by this disease for a long 
time, I was never so distressed as now, when I am hindered 

1 On Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata, cf. Letters 27, 30, 31, 34, 47, etc. This 
letter was written in 373. 

2 Eipidius is the deacon at whose hands St. Basil received the present 
letter from Eusebius and by whom he sent a letter of consolation to the 
Egyptian bishops who were in exile for the Faith in Palestine (Letter 
265) . 


by it from meeting your true Charity. For, of what pleasure 
we have been deprived I myself know, even though with but 
the tip of my finger I took a taste of the very sweet honey 
of your church a year ago. 

I also wanted to confer with your Reverence with regard 
to some other urgent affairs, and both to communicate and 
to learn many things. For, it is not even possible here to meet 
with true charity. Moreover, when I find a person who shows 
very great love, he is not one who is able to give us advice 
concerning the business before us with anything like the per- 
fect wisdom and the experience which you have gathered 
from your many toils for the churches. 

Now, there are other matters which I cannot put in writing; 
but those which, at all events, it is safe to set forth are as 
follows. The presbyter Evagrius, 3 the son of Pompeianus 4 of 
Antioch, who formerly accompanied the blessed Eusebius 5 to 

3 Evagrius of Antioch, as he is known. The dates of his birth and death 
are unknown. He was consecrated bishop over one of the parties at 
Antioch in 388-389. He went to Italy with Eusebius, Bishop of Vercellii, 
and at the death of that prelate returned to Antioch in company with 
St. Jerome. He was probably the ascetic who trained St. John Chrysos- 
tom in monastic discipline. He belonged to the Eustathian division of 
the Orthodox Church at Antioch. After nine or ten years spent in aiding 
Pope Damasus against his rival Ursinus, he returned to the East, stop- 
ping at Caesarea to visit St. Basil (373) . Later, from Antiodj, Evagrius 
wrote St. Basil a harsh letter, accusing him of love of strife and con- 
troversy. St. Basil's reply is a model of courteous sarcasm. Evagrius 
afterwards became the instrument for prolonging the schism. Cf. Theo- 
doret, Ecc. Hist. 5.23, and St. Basil, Letter 156. 

4 Pompeianusi, the father of Evagrius, was, according to St. Jerome, a 
descendant of the officer of that name who accompanied Aurelian 
against Zenobia of Palmyra in 273. 

5 St. Eusebius, Bishop of Vercelli, 283-371. According to St. Ambrose, he 
was the first bishop of the West to unite the monastic with the clerical 
life; cf. St. Ambrose, Letter 63, Ad Vercellenses, Being entirely orthodox, 
he refused at the synod of Milan in 355 to sign the document condemn- 
ing St. Athanasius. In 363, on his return to Vercelli from exile, "he 
became one of the chief opponents of the Arian bishop Amentius of 
Milan. The Chuich honors him as a martyr on December 16. 


the West, has now returned from Rome asking us for a letter 
containing the same things word for word which they have 
written (moreover, he brought back to us our own letter, 
as it was not acceptable to the very strict brethren there). 
He also asks that a sort of embassy of important men be 
hastily summoned, so that they may have a fair pretext for 
visiting us. 

Those at Sebaste who hold our opinions, having laid bare 
the festering wound of Eustathius 5 heterodoxy, 6 are asking us 
for some ecclesiastical care. 

Iconium is a city of Pisidia, formerly the second city in 
importance, and now the capital of a part, composed of dif- 
ferent sections, which has received the administration of its 
own government. This city is inviting us for a visit so that 
we may give it a bishop, for Faustinus is dead. 

Therefore, whether I should not refuse to perform ordina- 
tions beyond our boundaries, and what sort of an answer I 
should give the Sebastenes, and how I should be disposed 
toward the proposals of Evagrius I wanted to learn through 
a personal interview with your Honor. But, of all of this I 
have been deprived through my present illness. If, then, it is 
possible for you to secure someone who is soon coming to us, 
be so kind as to write me the answers to everything; if not, 
pray that that which is pleasing to the Lord may come to 
my mind. Moreover, order a remembrance to be made for us 
in the synod and do you yourself pray for us and invite the 
people also to pray, so that for the remaining days and hours 
of our sojourning it may be granted us to serve in a manner 
well pleasing to the Lord. 

6 For Eustathius of Sebaste, cf. Letters 79 n. 1 and 119 n. 1. 


139. To the Alexandrians 1 

The report of the persecutions which have been taking place 
throughout Alexandria and the rest of Egypt reached me 
long ago, and it has deeply affected my soul, as was to be 
expected. For, we thought of the artifice of the Devil's war- 
fare, who, when he saw that by the persecutions of our enemies 
the Church was increasing and thriving the more, changed 
his plan. He no longer makes war openly, but places hidden 
snares for us, concealing his treachery by means of the name 
which his followers bear, in order that we may endure the 
same sufferings as our fathers, and yet not seem to suffer for 
Christ, since our persecutors have the name of Christians. We 
sat for a long time considering these things, amazed at the 
tidings of what had happened. In truth, both of our ears 
rang on learning of the shameless and inhuman heresy of 
those who persecuted you; that they had no regard for age, 
nor for the labors of a life well spent, nor for the affection 
of the people. On the contrary, they tortured and dishonored 
bodies, handed them over to exile, and plundered what- 
ever property they were able to find, not fearing the censure 
of men nor foreseeing the fearful requital of the just Judge. 
These things have dazed us and almost put us out of our 
mind. But, along with these considerations, there came this 
thought also: The Lord has not entirely abandoned His 
churches, has He? And this is not the last hour, is it, and 
apostasy is finding an entrance through them, in order that 
now the impious one may be revealed, 'the son of perdition, 

1 The persecution here referred to is the one caused by Valens, who tor- 
tured the Eastern Catholics from 369 to the end of his reign. This letter 
was written in 373. 


who opposes and is exalted above all that is called God, or 
that is worshipped'? 2 

But, if the trial is transitory, bear it, noble champions of 
Christ; or even, if all things are given over to complete de- 
struction, let us not be careless with regard to the present, but 
let us await the revelation from heaven and the manifestation 
of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. For, if all creation 
is destroyed and the scheme of this world is altered, what 
wonder is it that we, also, being a part of creation, suffer 
the common evils and are given over to afflictions? These the 
just Judge lays upon us in proportion to our strength, 'not 
permitting us to be tempted beyond our strength, but with the 
temptation also giving us a way out that we may be able to 
bear it/ 3 

The crowns of martyrs await you, brothers; the choirs of 
confessors are ready to reach out to you their hands and to 
receive you into their own number. Remember the saints of 
old, that no one of those living luxuriously nor open to flat- 
tery was considered worthy of the crown of patient endur- 
ance, but all being tried by the fire of great tribulations gave 
proof of themselves. For, some 'had experience of mockery 
and stripes,' others "were sawed asunder,' and others 'were 
put to death by the sword/ 4 These are the glories of the 
saints. Blessed is he who is deemed worthy of suffering for 
the sake of Christ ! But, more blessed is he who has abounded 
in sufferings, because 'the sufferings of the present time are 
not worthy to be compared with the glory to come that will 
be revealed in us/ 5 

Certainly, if it had been possible for me to come in per- 

2 Cf. 2 Thess. 2.4. 

3 Cf. I Cor. 10.13. 

4 Cf. Heb. 11.36-37, 

5 Rom. 8.18. 


son, I would have desired nothing more than a meeting with 
you, so that I might both see and embrace the athletes of 
Christ and have part in your prayers and spiritual graces. 
But, since my body is now wasted by a long sickness, so that 
I am not even able to leave my bed, and since there are many 
lying in wait for us, like ravenous wolves, watching for an op- 
portunity when they may be able to plunder the sheep of 
Christ, I have been compelled to visit you by letter. I urge 
you, in the first place, to make earnest entreaties for me in 
order that I may be deemed worthy, at least for the remain- 
ing days or hours, to serve the Lord according to the Gospel 
of His Kingdom, and, in the second place, to pardon my 
absence and the tardiness of this letter. For, it was with dif- 
ficulty that I found a man who was able to comply with our 
desire. We mean our son, Eugenius, the monk, through whom 
I urge you to pray for us and for the whole Church and to 
write back to us about your affairs, so that, when we have 
some information, we may feel more cheerful 

140. To the Church at Antioch 1 

'Who will give me wings like a dove? And I will fly' to you 
*and be at rest 52 from my longing desire for a conference with 
your Charity. At present, however, I am in want not only 
of wings, but of a body itself, since mine has for some time past 
been laboring under a long-continued weakness, and now 
has been completely crushed by uninterrupted afflictions. For, 
who is so hard of heart, who so absolutely without sympathy 
and kindliness that, when he hears the groans which strike 
upon our ears from all sides as if from some sorrowful choir 

1 This letter was written in 373. 

2 Cf. Ps. 54.7. 


sounding forth in harmony a sort of universal dirge, he is not 
afflicted in spirit and bowed down to the earth and wholly 
prostrated by these desperate troubles? But, the holy God is 
able to give some release from these difficulties, and to bestow 
upon us some respite from the prolonged sufferings. There- 
fore, I pray you to have the same consolation and, rejoicing 
in the hope of solace, to endure the present pain of your af- 
flictions. For, if we are paying the penalty of our sins, our 
scourgings are sufficient to turn aside hereafter the wrath 
which God directs against us, or, if we are called upon to 
struggle in behalf of religion by these trials, the Judge is just, 
so that He will not permit us to be tempted beyond what 
we are able to bear, 3 but He will give to us, for what we have 
previously suffered, the crown of our patient endurance and 
of our hope in Him. Let us, then, not grow weary of con- 
tending in the struggles for religion, and let us not abandon 
in despair the fruits of our labors. For, not one act of courage 
nor one brief labor proves the staunchness of the soul, but 
He who makes trial of our hearts wishes us through a long 
and protracted test to be shown forth as victors of righteous- 

Only, let our spirit be kept unyielding, let the foundation 
of our faith in Christ be maintained unshaken, and He who 
will be our Helper will come speedily. He will come and will 
not delay. In fact, expect tribulation upon tribulation, hope 
upon hope, for yet a little while, yet a little while. Thus the 
Holy Spirit knows how to attract His disciples by the promise 
of the future. At any rate, after the tribulations comes hope, 
and near at hand is that for which we have hoped. For, even 
if one would speak of the whole life of man, very short is the 
span from first to last in comparison with that endless age 
which lies beyond in our hopes. 

3 Cf. 1 Cor. 10.13. 


Now, as to a creed, we neither receive a more recent one 
written for us by others nor do we ourselves dare to hand over 
the fruits of our own mind, lest we make the words of religion 
mere human words, but, whatever we have been taught by 
the holy Fathers, that do we announce to those who ask us. 
Therefore, there has been introduced in our church from the 
times of the Fathers the Creed written by the holy Fathers 
assembled at Nicaea. And we think that this is also in use 
among you. However, we do not refuse, lest we take upon 
ourselves the charge of indolence, to reproduce the words 
themselves in our letter. Here they are: 

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of 
all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord, Jesus Christ, 
the Only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father, that 
is, of the substance of the Father; Light of Light; true God 
of true God; begotten, not made; consubstantial with the 
Father, by whom all things were made both in heaven and 
on earth; who for us men and for our salvation came down; 
and was incarnate and was made man; suffered, and rose 
again on the third day; He ascended into heaven, and is 
coming to judge the living and the dead; and in the Holy 
Spirit. But as for those who say, 'There was once a time when 
He was not/ and 'Before He was begotten He was not,' and 
that 'He was made from what was not,' or affirm that the 
Son of God is of another person or substance, or that He is 
capable of change or variation, the Catholic and Apostolic 
Church excommunicates them. 4 

4 The Benedictine editors tell us that St. Leontius, who was present at 
the Council, brought the Nicene Creed to Caesarea, and both he and 
his successor Hermogenes bravely defended it, as can be seen in Letter 
81. However, Dianius, who succeeded Hermogenes, did not follow in 
their footsteps but signed several Arian formulae. Still, he supported 
the Nicene Creed, as is testified n Letter 51. 


We believe these truths. But, since the doctrine concerning 
the Holy Spirit was undefined, as at that time the Pneumato- 
machi 5 had not yet appeared, they 6 were silent as to the ne- 
cessity of anathematizing those who say that the Holy Spirit 
is of a created and servile nature. For, absolutely nothing of 
the Divine and Blessed Trinity is created. 

141. To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata } 

I have already received two letters from your inspired 
and most perfect Wisdom. One of them vividly described 
to us how we had been expected by the people under the 
jurisdiction of your Holiness, and how much grief we had 
caused by being absent from 'the most holy synod. And the 
other, the earlier one, as I judge from the contents, but which 
was delivered to us later, contained instructions such as are 
worthy of you and necessary for us that we should not be 
negligent of the churches of God nor little by little yield the 

5 The Pneumatomachi flourished in the countries adjacent to the Helles- 
pont. They denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit and so received their 
name. Macedonius, their founder, was intruded into the see of Constan- 
tinople by the Arians in 342 and enthroned by Constantius, who had 
for a second time expelled Paul, the Catholic bishop. They are some. 
times called Macedonians after the name of their founder. 

6 I.e., the Fathers of Nicaea. 

1 St. Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata (Commagene) , died in 379. His 
feast is celebrated on June 22 by the Greeks, and on June 21 by the 
Latins. The dissensions and unrest of the Eastern Church between the 
years 361 and 379 are reflected in his life more than in that of any 
other. Eusebius was a moderate supporter of the Creed of Nicaea, was 
threatened by Constantius, and was compelled under Valens to travel in 
disguise through his diocese. He was finally banished by Valens and only 
returned to his diocese in 376 after the death of Valens. Later, he was 
killed with a stone by an Arian woman. CL Tillemont, note 6*4. This 
letter was written in 373. 


control of affairs to our opponents, since in this way their 
influence will increase and ours will diminish. I think that I 
have answered both letters; nevertheless, since it is not evident 
whether those entrusted with the duty brought our answers 
safely, I am at present also offering a defense on the same 
subjects. As regards my absence I am writing a very true 
excuse, the report of which I think has reached even to your 
Holiness that I was detained by an illness which led me 
down to the very gates of death. And, even now, when writing 
concerning these matters, I write while still enduring the 
after-effects of my weakness. And these are of such a nature 
that in another they would suffice to be grievous disorders. 

But, in reference to this, that it was not by our negligence 
that the interests of the Church were handed over to our 
opponents, I wish your Reverence to know that the bishops 
who pretend to be in communion with us, because of reluc- 
tance, or because of their still being suspicious toward us and 
insincere, or because of the opposition engendered by the 
Devil against good works, are unwilling to help us. But, 
though the majority of us are joined with each other, for- 
sooth, in appearance, and even the worthy Bosporius 2 is 
united with us, yet they actually take part with us in none 
of the most pressing matters. As a result, I am retarded in 
my recovery for the most part by this despondency of mine, 
since, as a result of excessive grief, my infirmities continuously 

And what can I do alone, since the Canons, 3 as you your- 

2 Bosporius, an intimate friend of St. Basil, was Bishop of Colonia in 
Cappadocia Secunda. Cf. Letter 51. 

3 These Canons, falsely ascribed to the Apostles, are sometimes cited by 
St. Basil among the canonical epistles. He seems here to refer to the 
twenty-seventh, where it is ordained that in each province the bishops 
should not initiate anything of an important character without the 
opinion or consent of him who is of highest rank among them, and 
that each should be content with his own province; but he sjiould not 
do anything without the good will of all. St. Basil observed this canon 
very scrupulously. Cf. the note of the Benedictine editors. 


self know, do not grant administrative power of such a kind 
to one man? Yet, what remedy have I not employed? Of 
what decision have I not reminded them, now through letters, 
and again through personal conferences? They even came as 
far as the city at the report of my death. But, since it was 
pleasing to God that they should find us alive, we spoke to 
them as was proper. In my presence they are respectful and 
make all reasonable promises, but, after they have left, they 
again return to their own opinions. In these matters we, 
too, have the benefit of the general state of affairs, since 
clearly the Lord has abandoned us whose charity has grown 
cold because of the increase of wickedness, But, against all 
these things let your great and powerful petition to God suf- 
fice for us. For, perhaps, we may either become somewhat 
useful in the circumstances, or, if we fail in the object of our 
desires, we may escape condemnation. 

142. To the Accountant of the Prefects 1 

At the synod of the blessed martyr Eupsychius 2 I brought 
together all our brothers, the suffragan bishops, 3 to make them 
known to your Honor. But, since you were absent, they must 
be introduced to your Perfection by letter. I would like you, 
therefore, to know this brother, who is worthy of being trusted 
by your Wisdom because of his fear of the Lord. And in 
whatever matters he may have recourse to your good will as 
regards the poor, do not refuse to trust him as one who is 
telling the truth, and to furnish your powerful assistance for 
the oppressed. Without doubt, you will also deign to visit the 

1 There were two numerarii, or accountants of the prefect, in every prov- 
ince. This letter was written in 373. 

2 For the martyr Eupsychius, cf. Letter 100 n. 2. 

3 For suffragan bishops, cf. Letter 53 n. L 


almshouse of the district which is subject to him and to ex- 
empt it entirely from the tax. For, it has already pleased your 
colleague to free from taxation the petty possessions of the 

143. To the Second Accountant 1 

If It had been possible for me to visit your Honor, I would 
certainly have appealed in person for what I wanted, and 
I would have taken my stand as defender of the oppressed. 
But, since weakness of body and business affairs hold me 
back, I am recommending to you, in my place, this brother, 
the suffragan bishop, 2 so that, giving heed to him in all sin- 
cerity, you may use him for a counselor. For, he is a man able 
to advise you truthfully and prudently concerning our affairs. 
Now, when yea will deign to visit the almshouse he estab- 
lished (for you will see it, I well know, and will not pass it by, 
since you are not inexperienced in the work; moreover, as a 
certain person has reported to me, you maintain one in 
Amasea 3 from the possessions which the Lord has given you), 
so, then, when you see this one, you will grant him all that 
he requests. For, your colleague 4 has already promised me 
some concession as regards the almshouses. I say this, not that 

1 Cf. the preceding letter. This letter was written in 373. 

2 Cf. Letter 53 n. L 

3 A city in Pontus, situated on the Iris. 

4 By the word 'colleague' here is not meant the other accountant to whom 
the preceding letter is addressed, because in that letter also St. Basil 
remarks that he has been promised help for the poor by the addressee's 
colleague. Since there were but two accountants, this orobably refers 
to another officer who had similar duties. The Benedictine editors cqn- 
jecture him to be the prefects* officer, to whom the next letter is ad- 
dressed and who is asked to fulfill certain promises he has made. 
However, it may be that St. Basil, to gain his end, is telling each of 
the two what the other has promised. 


you yourself may imitate another (indeed, it is right for you 
to be the leader of others in noble deeds), but that you may 
know that others also have shown respect to us in these 

144. To the Prefects 3 Administrator 1 

Surely you know this man through your interview in the 
city. Nevertheless, I am presenting and recommending him 
to you also by letter, because, in view of his ability to suggest 
intelligently and prudently what should be done, he will be 
useful to you for many of the works toward which you are 
directing your efforts. And ther.e is now an opportunity to 
give practical proof of what you told me in private, when the 
afore-mentioned brother explains the condition of the poor. 

145. To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 1 

I know the countless labors which you have endured in 
defense of the churches of God, and I am not ignorant of 
the numerous occupations in which you are engaged, since 
you do not carry on your administration carelessly but ac- 
cording to the will of God. I also bear in mind that man 2 
who, close at hand, lies in wait for you, because of whom, 
each of you, like birds cowering under cover beneath the eagle, 
must not stray far from the shelter. None of these facts has 
escaped me. Yet, yearning is irresistible both in hoping for 
the unattainable and in undertaking the impossible. Rather, 

1 Similar to the preceding letter and written at about the same time. 

1 For Eusebius, cf. Letter 141 n. 1. This letter was written in 373. 

2 Le., Valens. 


my hope in the Lord is the strongest of all. For, not with un- 
reasoning desire, but in the strength of faith I even expect 
that a way will appear in the midst of the desperate situa- 
tion, and that you will easily overcome all obstacles so that 
you may see the church which is most dear to you, and also, 
of course, that you may be seen. This is the most precious 
of all its blessings to look upon your countenance and to 
hear your voice. Do not, therefore, render its hopes fruitless. 
For, when I returned a year ago from Syria bringing that 
promise which I had received, how hopefully elated do you 
think I caused all to become? Do not, therefore, defer your 
visit until another time, admirable Sir. Even if a visit should 
be possible at some future time, that will not be when we also 
are present, since disease is pressing us to depart soon from 
this wretched life. 

146. To Antiochus 1 

I am not able to charge you with idleness because you were 
silent when an opportunity of writing a letter offered itself. 
For, the salutation which you sent me by your honored hand 
I prize more highly than many letters. Therefore, in return, 
I greet you and I urge you to give earnest care to the safety 
of your soul, training all carnal passions according to rea- 
son and keeping the thought of God continually fixed in your 
soul, as in a most holy temple. In every deed and every speech 
place before your eyes the judgment of Christ, so that all your 
actions when brought together for that strict and fearful 
scrutiny may bring you glory in the day of retribution when 
before every creature you are adjudged worthy of praise. But, 

1 Antiochus was the nephew of Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata. This letter 
was written in 373. Letters 157, 158, and 168 are also addressed to him. 


if that great man 2 should permit himself a journey to us, it 
will be no small profit for us to see you with him in our land. 

147. To Aburgius 1 

Formerly, I used to think that the tales of Homer were a 
fable whenever I read the second part of the poem in which 
he narrates the sufferings of Odysseus. But, the sudden dis- 
aster befalling Maximus, a most excellent man in all respects, 
has taught us to consider as entirely probable those things 
until now regarded as fabulous and incredible. For, he was 
governor over no very insignificant people, just as Odysseus 
was leader of the Cephallenians. Now, Odysseus, although 
he took with him much money, returned stripped of all. Mis- 
fortune has also reduced this man to such a state that he runs 
the risk of appearing at home in borrowed garments. And he 
has endured these sufferings because, perhaps, he provoked 
against himself Laestrygones, or encountered Scylla, who, 
under the form of a woman, possessed the inhumanity and 
savagery of a dog. Since, then, he has scarcely been able to 
swim through this inescapable flood of troubles, through us 
he makes his supplication to you. He begs you to respect our 
common nature, and with compassion for his undeserved ca- 
lamities not to conceal in silence his misfortunes but to make 
them known to those in power, so that he will, above all, have 
some assistance against the calumny that has been fabricated. 

2 I.e., Eusebius of Samosata. 

1 This appeal to Aburgius is in behalf of Maximus, the former Governor 
of Cappadocia, who had been unjustly accused of embezzlement, stripped 
of his office, and forced to flee to Caesarea. Aburgius was a wealthy 
layman whose intercession St. Basil often asked in behalf of unfortu- 
nate acquaintances and friends. Other letters to Aburgius are Letters 
33, 75, 178, 196, and 304. On Maximus, cf. Letter 98. This letter was 
written in 373. 


But, if that is not possible, he asks you at least to make public 
the intentions of the man treating him so outrageously. For, 
the disclosure of the wickedness of those plotting against him 
will be a satisfying consolation for a man who has been 

148. To Trajan 1 

It brings much consolation to the afflicted even to be able 
to lament their misfortunes bitterly, and, especially, when they 
find men who are able, because of the nobility of their char- 
acter, to sympathize with them in their grievances. Now, the 
most revered brother Maximus, he who ruled our country, has 
endured such sufferings as no other man has yet endured, 
and has been stripped of all his belongings, both such as he 
inherited from his father and such as he had amassed by his 
former labors. Moreover, having suffered bodily evils without 
number by his wanderings to and fro, and not even having 
preserved intact his rights of citizenship, for the sake of which 
free men are accustomed to endure anything, he has loudly 
bewailed his misfortunes in our presence. Furthermore, he has 
asked that through us the Iliad of evils encompassing him 
should be briefly made known to you. And, since I was not 
otherwise able to relieve him of his dire troubles, I readily 
granted him this favor to notify your Modesty of a few of 
the many things which I had heard from him, since he him- 
self seemed to me to blush at relating openly his misfortunes. 

For, even if what has happened does not prove the per- 
petrator of the injustice to be a wicked man, still it shows 

1 Cf. preceding letter. This Trajan may be, although it is not certain, 
the commander-in-chief of the army under Valens. This letter was 

ttri"t **% i- 9T9 

written in 373 


that the victim has a most pitiable lot, since the very fact of 
his having fallen into evils sent by God seems somehow to 
furnish a proof that he has been handed over to afflictions. 
But, it is a sufficient consolation for him in his troubles for 
you to look upon him with kindly eye and to extend to him 
that very helpful favor, which, although many enjoy, they are 
not able to exhaust I mean the favor of your clemency. And 
we are also all positively convinced that in the courts your 
support will be a great means toward victory for him. More- 
over, this man, who has requested our letter on the ground 
that it will be of some use to him, is himself the most right- 
eous of all men. May we see him among the rest praising your 
Dignity with all the strength of his voice. 

149. To Trajan 1 

You yourself have seen with your own eyes the misery of 
the formerly renowned but now most pitiable Maximus, who 
was governor of our country. Would that he had not been! 
For, I think that the government of the peoples will be 
shunned by many, if governorships are likely to come to such 
an end. So, why should we report separately each thing which 
we have seen and which we have heard to a man who is able 
by the keenness of his intellect to infer from a few incidents 
what has been omitted? But, at least in saying this, \ shall 
perhaps not appear to you to speak overmuch that, although 
there were many horrible outrages committed against him be- 
fore your arrival, those perpetrated after that were of such a 
nature as to cause the former ones to be considered kindly 
deeds. Such excessive insolence and loss of goods and bodily 

1 The MSS, assign this letter to the Trajan of the preceding letter. It 
also was written in 373. 


sufferings did those acts entail which were later devised against 
him by the vicar ! And, now, he has come under guard to com- 
plete the rest of his penalties here, unless you will be willing 
to hold your mighty hand in protection over the afflicted man. 
Assuredly, I know that I am performing a superfluous act 
in urging your Excellency to kindliness. Only, since I wish to 
be of service to the man, I beseech your Grace for our sake 
to add something to your natural zeal for good, so that the 
benefit of our intercession for him may be evident to the man. 

150. To Amphilochius 3 in the Namg of Heracleidas 1 

I recall the conversations which we once had with one 
another, and I have not forgotten either what I myself said 
nor what I heard from your Nobility. And, now, public life 
does not hold me back. Although I am the same in heart and 
have not yet put off the old man, except, indeed, in appear- 
ance and in having removed myself far from the affairs of 
life, I seem now, as it were, to have entered upon the path of 
life exemplified by Christ. And I sit by myself like those 
about to put out to sea, looking steadily to the future. For, 
the sailors have need of winds for a fair voyage, but we of 
someone to lead us by the hand and bring us safely through 
the bitter waters of life. Now, I consider that I need, first of 

1 Amphilochius, later Bishop of Iconium, had abandoned his practice of 
law and was living in retirement at Ozizala, not far from Nazianzus 
where Gregory, his uncle, was bishop. Other letters addressed to him 
by St. Basil are: 161, 176, 190, 200, 201, 202, 218, 231, 232, 233, 234, 
235, 236, and 238, besides those dealing with the canons. Heracleidas, a 
friend of Amphilochius and also a retired lawyer, was living at St. 
Basil's famous hospital at the time that this letter was written. St. Basil 
wrote this letter for Heracleidas to let Amphilochius know why Hera, 
cleidas had not joined him in his retreat, to explain what Heracleidas 
was doing at Caesarea, and to attempt to persuade Amphilochius to 
come to St. Basil. It was written in 373. 


all, a curb against my youth, and, then, spurs for the race of 
piety. And the provider of these, without doubt, is reason, 
now moderating our disorderly conduct, now arousing the 
sluggishness of our soul. Again, I need other remedies so as 
to purify the sordidness of my manners. For, you know that 
we who for a long time have been accustomed to the forum 
are unsparing of our words and are not on our guard against 
the imaginations, which are aroused in our mind by the Evil 
One. Moreover, we are overcome by honor and we do not 
easily lay aside the habit of thinking somewhat highly of our- 
selves. Against these things I realize that I need a great and 
an experienced teacher. Then, in truth, the cleansing of the 
soul's eye, so that it may be able to fix its gaze on the beauty 
of the glory of God when aU darkness of ignorance, like some 
rheum, has been removed, I consider no little task nor one 
that brings profit only for a short time. 

I know full well that your Eloquence is aware of this and 
desires that there should be someone to give this assistance. 
Moreover, if ever God grants me to meet your Modesty, I 
shall, without doubt, learn more concerning the matters to 
which I must give heed. For, now, by reason of my great 
ignorance I am not able even to understand in how great need 

1 am, but at least I have not repented of my first attempt, nor 
does my soul sink down at the prospect of a life according 
to God. About this you rightly and in a manner befitting 
yourself felt anxiety in my case, lest, ever turning back, I 
should become a 'statue of salt,' 2 a thing which, as I hear, 
happened to a certain woman. Yet, truly, the powers from 
without still hinder me, like magistrates searching out some 
deserter. But, especially, my own heart holds me back, testi- 
fying to itself to all those things which I have said. 

But, when you recalled our agreements and announced 

2 Cf. Gen. 19.26. 


that you would bring charges, you made me laugh even in 
the midst of this dejection of mine, because you are still an 
advocate and are not giving up your cleverness. 3 For, I 
think thus that, unless like an unlearned person I am stray- 
ing from the truth altogether, there is one road which leads 
to the Lord, and all those going to Him travel in company 
with one another and proceed according to one rule of life. 
Therefore, where can I go and be separated from you and 
not live with you and with you serve God, to whom we have 
by common consent fled for refuge? For, our bodies may be 
separated by material space, but certainly the eye of God looks 
upon us both together, if my life is really worthy of being 
viewed by the eyes of God, for I have read somewhere in the 
Psalms that 'the eyes of the Lord are upon the just.' 4 And I 
do indeed pray to be bodily present both with you and with 
everyone who makes a choice similar to yours, and also every 
night and day to bend my knees to our Father in heaven with 
you and with any other who is worthily calling upon God. 
I know that union in prayers brings much gain. Yet, if the 
charge of falsehood will assuredly follow me as often as I 
shall happen to complain when cast aside in a different little 
corner, I cannot contradict the word. But, I already condemn 
myself as a liar if I have made any statement in my former 
condition of indifference which makes me liable to the charge 
of a falsehood. 5 

After I had come near enough to Caesarea to become ac- 
quainted with the state of affairs, since I was not willing to 

3 Apparently, Amphilochius and Heracleidas had made an agreement 
with each other to abstain from public life. As Heracleidas had broken 
the agreement, Amphilochius threatens to bring action against him. 

4 Ps. 33.16. 

5 Amphilochius had evidently found fault with Heracleidas in conse- 
quence of a complaint he had made, and had accused him of repenting 
of having entered upon the ascetic life. 


enter the city itself, I took refuge in the nearby almshouse in 
order to learn there what I wished. Then, when the bishop 
dearly beloved of God came to visit according to his custom, 
I referred to him what your Eloquence had commanded us. 
And, though we could not keep in memory what he answered, 
and it exceeded the length of a letter, yet to sum up, con- 
cerning poverty he said that this was the measure that each 
should limit his possessions to the last tunic. And he offered us 
proofs from the Gospel one from John the Baptist who 
said: 'Let him who has two tunics share with him who has 
none' ; 6 and another from our Lord who forbade His disciples 
to have two tunics. 7 And he added to these, also, the state- 
ment: 'If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell what thou hast, and 
give to the poor. 58 And he also said that the parable of the 
pearl refers to this, because the merchant who found the pre- 
cious pearl, going away, sold all his possessions and bought it. 
Again, he added to this that a person ought not to leave the 
distribution of his substance to himself, but to him who has 
been entrusted with the management of the affairs of the poor. 
And he proved this from the Acts, 9 that they would sell what 
belonged to them and, bringing [the price], lay it at the feet 
of the apostles, and by them distribution was made to each 
according as anyone had need. 5 For, he said that the power 
of distinguishing him who is truly in need from him who is 
asking through avarice required experience. And he who gives 
to the afflicted has given to the Lord and from Him will re- 
ceive the reward, but he who provides for every wanderer has 
cast It to a dog, troublesome because of his shamelessness, but 
not to be pitied on account of indigence. 

Now, concerning the matter of how we ought to live day 

6 Luke 3.11. 

7 A reference to our Lord's statement in Matt. 19.9-10. 

8 Matt. 19.21. 

9 Cf. Acts 4.34-35. 


by day, he had time to say but little, considering the im- 
portance of the subject, but I would prefer for you to have 
learned this from the man himself. For, it is not reasonable 
for me to mar the exactness of his teachings. But, I have 
prayed to visit him some day with you, in order that you, while 
preserving accurately in your memory what is said, may also 
by your own intelligence find out what is left unsaid. For, 
from the many things I heard I remember this that instruc- 
tion on how the Christian should live is not so much in need of 
speech as of daily example. And I know that, if the bond of 
responsibility for your aged father did not hold you back, 
you yourself would have preferred nothing to a conference 
with the bishop, nor would you have advised me to leave him 
and wander into the solitude. For, the caves and the rocks 
await us, but the advantages accruing to us from men are 
not always at hand. Therefore, if you would permit me to 
advise you, you would impress upon your father that he should 
allow you to depart from him for a little while and to meet 
the man who knows much both from the experience of others 
and from his own intelligence, and is able to offer it to those 
who come to him. 

15 L To Eustathius, the Physician 1 

If there is any benefit from our letters, do not for any length 
of time cease writing to us and rousing us to write, for we 
ourselves are certainly made happier by reading the letters 
of intelligent men who love the Lord. And, whether you 
yourself really find something deserving of esteem in our let- 
ters, it is for you who read them to know. By all means, if we 

1 Letter 189 is also addressed to this Eustathius. This letter was written 
in 373. 



were not drawn away by the press of business engagements, 
we would not refrain from the pleasure of writing continu- 
ously. But you, whose cares are less, charm us as often as it 
may be possible with your letters. For, they say that wells 
become better by being used. But, your counsels drawn from 
the art of medicine are apparently beside the point, since we 
are not employing the knife, but they who have become cor- 
rupted are falling upon one another. 2 Now, there is a Stoic say- 
ing: 'When,' it is said, 'matters do not happen as we wish, we 
wish them as they happen.' But, on my part, I cannot conform 
my will to the matter in hand ; yet, I do not condemn men who 
perform a necessary act against their will. For, you physicians 
do not wish to cauterize the sick or otherwise cause them to 
suffer; nevertheless, you permit it frequently in consequence 
of the seriousness of the condition. Neither do those who go 
to sea willingly throw out their cargo, 3 but, in order to escape 
shipwreck, they submit to the jettisoning, preferring a life of 
poverty to death. And, so, believe that we also endure with 
pain and with countless lamentations the separation from 
those who withdraw; nevertheless, we bear it, since nothing 
is more precious to the lovers of truth than God and our 
hope in Him. 

2 Eustathius the bishop and his followers are using the knife upon each 

3 According to the Benedictine editors, the cargo thrown overboard rep- 
resents the loss of unity suffered by the Sebastenes when they left 
the communion of Eustathius. Cf Letter 237. 


752. To Victor, a Commander 1 

If I should not write to some other person, I would, per- 
haps, justly incur the charge of negligence or forgetfulness. 
But, how is it possible to forget you, whose name is spoken 
among all men? And, how possible to neglect you, who have 
excelled almost all on earth in the loftiness of your honors? 
However, the cause of our silence is evident we hesitate to 
become troublesome to so great a man. But, if in addition to 
your other virtues, you possess this one, also that you not 
only accept the letters sent by us but also miss those which 
were left unsent behold, we are now writing with confidence 
and we shall continually write, praying to the holy God that 
recompense be given to you for the honor which you pay 
us. You have anticipated our requests for the Church, having 
done everything which we would have asked. And you act 
not to please men, but God, who has honored you and who 
has given you some blessings in the present life and will give 
others in the life to come, because you have walked His road 
with truth and have kept your heart unswerving in Tightness 
of faith from beginning to end. 

153. To Victor, the Ex-Consul 1 
As often as we chance to read the letters from your Modesty, 

1 Victor was a distinguished general under Valens, a man of high char- 
acter, and an orthodox Christian. He had been consul in 569. Cf. Greg- 
ory of Nazianzus, Letters 133 and 134. In 378, he united with Trajan, 
Arintheus, and other generals in remonstrating with Valens on his 
Arianisrn. Cf. Theod. HE. 4.30; and Amm. Marc. 31.7. This letter was 
written in 373. 

I In all probability, this is the same Victor as is addressed in the preced- 
ing letter. The date is about the same as that of the preceding letter. 


we return thanks to God because you continue to be mindful 
of us, and do not because of any slander lessen the love which 
formerly, either by a wise judgment or a kindly practice, you 
< onscnted to entertain for us. Therefore, we pray to the holy 
God both that you may persevere in the same disposition to- 
ward us and that we may be worthy of the honor which you 
bestowed on us through your letter. 

154. To Ascholius, Bishop of Thessalonica 1 

You have acted rightly and according to the law of spiritual 
c harity in having begun the correspondence between us and 
stirred us to a like zeal by your good example. For, the friend- 
ship of the world needs the eyes and a personal meeting to 
initiate an acquaintance therefrom. But, those who know how 
to love spiritually do not use the flesh as the promoter of 
friendship; on the contrary, they are led to the spiritual union 
through the fellowship of the faith. Therefore, thanks be to 
the Lord, who has consoled our hearts by showing that not 
among all has charity grown cold, but that there are some- 
where in the world men who reveal the stamp of Christ's 
teaching. Accordingly, your office seemed to me to be like that 
of the stars, which in their nightly concourse give light, some 
to one part of the heavens and others to another; whose 
splendor is most beautiful, and more beautiful, perhaps, be- 
cause of their unexpectedness. And such are you, the lights 
of the churches, very few and easily numbered in this gloomy 

1 Ascholius baptized Theodosius at Thessalonica in 380 and was present 
at the Council of Constantinople in 381. Cf. Letters 164 and 165; also 
Socrates, Ecc. Hist. 5.6,8. Letter 15 of St. Ambrose was written at the 
death of Ascholius. In it St. Ambrose says of Ascholius: 'Ad surnmum 
sacerdotiwn a Macedonicis obsecratus populis, electus a sacerdotibus* 
This letter was written in 373. 


state of affairs, shining, as it were, in the moonless night, 
and, besides possessing the charm of virtue, being yet more 
dearly beloved because of the infrequency with which you 
are found. 

Your letter revealed sufficiently your disposition toward 
us. Even if it was brief in the number of its syllables, at 
least in the correctness of thought it gave adequate proof to 
us of your principles. Now, the fact that you have been con- 
cerned about the most blessed Athanasius is the clearest evi- 
dence that you are sound in the most important matters. In 
return, therefore, for the pleasure derived from your letter 
we express our great gratitude to our most honorable son 
Euphernius, 2 for whom I, on my part, pray that there may be 
every assistance from the Holy One. I urge you also to pray 
with us, in order that we may quickly receive him back with 
his most modest 3 wife, our daughter in the Lord. And let 
me urge you, too, not to stay our happiness at its beginning, 
but to write on every occasion that is offered and by the fre- 
quency of your communication to increase your love toward 
us. Tell us also about the churches there, whether they are in 
accord, and pray for us here, so that there may be a great 
calm among us, too, after our Lord has rebuked the wind 
and the sea. 

2 The bearer of the letter from Ascholius to St. Basil. 

3 Kosmiotdte$a title of distinction applied by St. Basil to laymen. 


755. Without Address, in the Case of a Trainer 1 

Against the many charges which were written in the first 
and only letter that your Nobility deigned to send us, I am 
at a loss as to how I should defend myself, not because of 
the want of a just reason, but because from among a great 
number of accusations the choice of the more relevant is a 
difficult matter, as is also the choice of the point to which we 
must first direct our attention. Or, perhaps, by making use 
of the very order in which they are written, we should meet 
them one by one. 

We did not know until today those who are setting out 
from here for Scythia; moreover, those of your house did not 
even mention the fact to us, so that we might greet you 
through them, although we are ready with much eagerness 
to salute your Honor at every opportunity. It is impossible 
to forget you in our prayers, unless we first forget our task 
to which the Lord assigned us. For, since, by the grace of 
God, you are faithful, you certainly remember the appointed 
liturgy of the Church that we pray for our brethren on their 
journeys abroad. Moreover, for those who are numbered in 
the military service, for those who speak openly in defense 
of the name of the Lord, and for those who show forth the 
fruits of the Spirit, we offer our prayers in the holy Church. 
And we think that your Honor is certainly included in the 

I According to the Benedictine editors, the person to whom the letter 
is written is Julius, Soranus, a relative of St Basil and a duke of Scythia. 
It applies to Soranus, since he was a 'trainer' and encourager of martyrs. 
In Letter 164, St. Basil calls Ascholius 'trainer' of the martyr Sabas. 
On the present letter and Letters 155, 164, and 165, v-hich have to dp 
\vith transferring the remains of the Gothic martyr Sahas (died April 
372) to Caesarea in Cappadocia, cf. G. Pfeilschefter, Em neues Werk 
de s Wulfila, Veroftenthchungen aus dem Kirchenhistor (Seminar, Mun- 
chen 1907) 192-224. This letter, written in 373, is one of the earliest 
references to the preservation of the relics of martyrs 


majorit} or e\en in all of these prayers. And, how could we 
personally forget you, since so many things move us to a 
remembrance such a sister, such nephews, kinsmen so noble, 
so devoted to us, such a home, domestics, and friends, be- 
cause of whom, even if we did not wish it, we are compelled 
to recall your good will? 

Now, concerning this present matter, the brother reported 
nothing serious to us, nor was any decision delivered by us 
that was at all injurious to him. Therefore, turn your griev- 
ance against those who have been telling you falsehoods, 
and free both the suffragan bishop and me from all blame. 
If that pedant prepares some lawsuit, he has the public courts 
and the laws. Therefore, I ask you to make no further com- 
plaint on these points. 

Now, whatever good deeds you do personally you store up as 
a treasure for \ourself; whatever relief you offer to those who 
suffer persecution for the name of the Lord, this you prepare 
for yourself on the day of recompense. And you will do well 
if you send the relics of the martyrs to your native country, 
since, as you wrote to us, the persecution there is even now 
making- mart>rs to the Lord. 

756. To Evagrius, a Presbyter 1 

So far was I from being displeased at the length of your 
message that the letter, because of the pleasure I derived from 
reading it, even seemed to me to be short. For, what is more 

1 Evagrius is commonly known as of Antioch, to distinguish him from 
others of the same name, especially Evagrius the historian. The dates 
of his birth and death are uncertain, hut he is known to have been 
consecrated by Paulinus in 388. It was this act which prolonged the 
Meletian schism at Antioch. He lived at least until 392; cf. Letter 138. 
This letter was written in the late autumn of 373; cf. Loofs, op. ciL 
31 n. 3. 


pleasing to hear than the name of peace? Or what is more be- 
fitting the sacred office and more gratifying to the Lord than 
planning for such things? Therefore, may the Lord bestow the 
reward of peace-making on you, who choose so well and are 
so zealously engaged in a most blessed task. But believe? hon- 
ored Friend, that of those foremost in zeal we yield to none, 
as far as regards the desire and prayer to see at some time the 
day on which all who are not separated from one another 
in opinion will gather in the same assembly. We should, in 
truth, be the most monstrous of all men if we exulted over 
the schisms and divisions of the churches, and did not esteem 
the union of the members of Christ's body as the greatest of 
blessings. Yet, realize that we fall as far short in power as 
we superabound in desire. For, your perfect Wisdom is not 
ignorant of the fact that evils strengthened by time need, 
first of all, time for correction, and, then, a strong and rather 
energetic guidance, if one proposes to reach the very depths 
so as to pull out by the roots the disorders of the ailing. But, 
you know what I mean, and, if I must speak more clearly, 
there is no cause for fear. 

Self-love, which through long habit has taken root in souls, 
one man cannot destroy, nor can one letter, nor a brief period 
of time. The suspicions and frictions arising from controversy 
cannot be entirely removed unless some trustworthy person 
acts as mediator in the interests of peace. And if all the 
strength of grace flowed upon us and we were able by word 
and deed and the gifts of the Spirit to move our opponents, 
we should be obliged to attempt such a task. But, perhaps, 
you would not even then have advised us to start alone to 
make the correction, since, by the grace of God, the bishop 2 
is the one to whom chiefly appertains the care of the 
churches; and he himself is not able to come to us, nor 

2 Meletius of Antioch. 


is it easy for us, in the meantime, to travel on account of 
the winter. Rather, it is absolutely impossible, not only because 
my body is exhausted by the long-continued illness, but also 
because the passages of the Armenian mountains become, a 
little later, difficult to cross, even for those who are in the full 
vigor of youth. But, I shall not refuse to make these things 
known to him in writing. However, I do not expect anything 
worthy of mention to result from letters, judging from the 
exactness of the man and the very nature of written words, be- 
cause the transmitted message is obviously unable to persuade. 
For, it is necessary to say many things and in turn to listen to 
many things, to solve the questions arising, and to explain 
those points which are not evident. And the discussion in 
letters, spread out inert and lifeles over the paper, is incapable 
of this. 

However, as I have said, I shall not hesitate to write. Yet, 
be assured, our most truly pious and much beloved Brother, 
that, by the grace of God, I have no personal quarrel with 
anyone. For, I am not aware of having been curious about 
the charges for which each is liable or is said to be liable. 
Thus, therefore, it is fitting for you to pay attention to our 
opinion, since we are incapable of acting through partiality, 
nor have we been prejudiced by slander against any. May it 
be the will of the Lord that all be done in the manner of 
the Church, and with proper order! 

Our most desired son, the fellow deacon Dorotheus, caused 
us grief when he announced concerning your Reverence that 
you refused to participate with him in the religious service. 
Yet, such were not the matters discussed by us, if I remember 
anything at all. Moreover, it is absolutely impossible for me 
to send a representative to the West, since I have no one suit- 
able for such a service. If any of the brothers with you wishes 
to undertake the task for the sake of the churches, he knows, 
of course, to whom he will set out, for what object, by whom 


he will be supplied with letters, and what sort these will be. 
For, truly, when I look around me, I see no one at all with 
me. And I pray to be numbered with the seven thousand who 
did not bend their knee to Baal. But, they who are laying 
their hands upon all seek our soul, also. Not for this, however, 
will we neglect any of the zeal we owe to the churches of God. 

157. To Antiochus 1 

You can imagine how disappointed I was at having failed 
to meet you during the summer. Even our meeting of other 
years was not such as to completely satisfy us. However, to see, 
at least in a dream, the objects of their desire brings some 
comfort to lovers. But, you do not even write, you are so 
laz\ ; so, your absence can be ascribed to no other cause than 
that you are disinclined to long journeys for charity's sake. 
However, let us cease this. Pray for us and entreat the Lord 
not to abandon us, but, as He delivered us from those trials 
which have come upon us, so, also, for the glory of His name 
in which we have placed our hope, to free us from those 
which are threatening. 

158. To Antiochus 1 
Since my sins stand against me so that I have not been able 

1 Other letters addressed to Antiochus, the nephew of Eusebius, are 
Letters 146, 158, and 168. The Benedictine editors are inclined to think 
that, in spite of its title, this letter was written to Eusebius. St. Basil's 
complaints befit Eusebius rather than Antiochus, who could not travel 
without his uncle's permission. This letter was written m 373. 

1 For Antiochus, cf. note 1 of preceding letter. This letter was also writ- 
ten in 373. 


to accomplish the desire which I have long had of meeting 
you, I am at least consoling myself for the failure by means 
of letters. And we urge you not to cease remembering us in 
your prayers, in order that, if we live, we may be considered 
worthy of enjoying your company; if not, that through the 
assistance of your prayers we may depart from this world with 
great hope. We recommend to you the brother who is in 
charge of the camels. 

159. To Eupaterius and His Daughter 1 

How much pleasure the letter of your Modesty afforded me 
you surely can imagine from the very contents. For, to a man 
who makes it his prayer that he may always associate with 
those who fear God and receive some advantage from them, 
what could be sweeter than such a letter through which knowl- 
edge of God is sought? For, if 'to us to live is Christ, 52 it fol- 
lows that our speech ought to be about Christ, and our every 
thought and act should depend upon His commands, and 
our soul should be formed to His image. Accordingly, I re- 
joice at being asked about such matters and I congratulate 
those asking. In one word, then, we honor the Creed of the 
Fathers assembled at Nicaea before all those that were formu- 
lated later. In it the Son is confessed to be consubstantial 
with the Father and of the same nature as He who has be- 
gotten Him. For, as Light of Light, and God of God, and 
Good of Good, and all such identities, He has been confessed 
by those holy Fathers and is now attested by us also who pray 
to walk in their footsteps. 

1 Eupaterius and his daughter are otherwise unknown. This letter was 
written in 573. 

2 Cf. Phil. 131. 


Since the question which has at present arisen among those 
who are always attempting to make innovations, but which 
had been passed over in silence by the men of earlier times be- 
cause the doctrine was not contradicted, has been left unex* 
plained (I mean, of course, that concerning the Holy Spirit), 
we are adding the explanation of it in conformity with the 
meaning of the Scriptures that as we are baptized, so, also, 
do we believe ; as we believe, so, also, do we give glory. There- 
fore, since baptism has been given to us by the Saviour in the 
name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we 
offer a confession of faith consistent with our baptism, and also 
the doxology consistent with our faith, glorifying the Holy 
Spirit with the Father and the Son in the conviction that He 
is not separated from the divine nature. For, that which is dif- 
ferent according to its nature would not share the same honors. 
And we pity those who say that the Holy Spirit is a creature 
on the ground that by such a statement they have fallen into 
the unpardonable sin of blasphemy against Him. Now, the 
fact that a creature is distinct from the Divinity needs no fur- 
ther explanation to those who are even a little familiar with 
the Scriptures. For, the creature is subject, but the Spirit sets 
free; 3 the creature is in need of life, 'it is the Spirit that gives 
life'; 4 the creature also needs teaching, the Spirit is the 
Teacher; 5 the creature is sanctified, the Spirit is the Sancti- 
fier. 6 Even if you would mean angels, or archangels, or all 
the heavenly powers, it is through the Spirit that they receive 
their holiness. For, the Spirit of Himself has a natural sanc- 
tity not received through grace but joined essentially to Him, 
whence also He has gained in a special manner the name of 
'Holy.' Accordingly, what is holy by nature, as the Father is 

3 Cf. Rom, 8.2. 

4 John 6.64. 

5 Cf. John 14.26. 

6 Cf. Rom. 15.16. 


holy by nature, and the Son holy by nature, we ourselves do 
not dare to separate and sever from the Divine and Blessed 
Trinity, and we do not approve those who carelessly reckon 
Him among creatures. 

Let these words, briefly set forth, suffice for your Reverence. 
For, from scant seeds you will produce the more fruit of 
piety, if the Holy Spirit is working with you. 'Give an occasion 
to a wise man, and wisdom shall be added to him. 57 But, we 
shall hold over a more complete explanation until we meet, 
when it will be possible to confute the objections, to furnish 
more detailed testimony from the Scriptures, and to confirm 
every sound rule of faith. For the present, however, pardon 
my brevity. For, to begin with, I would not have written at 
all if I had not thought that to refuse the request altogether 
would be greater harm than to fulfill it inadequately. 

760. To Diodorus 1 

A letter has reached us which bears the name of Diodorus, 
but which seems in all that follows to belong to anyone else 
rather than to Diodorus. In fact, it appears to me that some 
clever fellow, masquerading in your person, wished in this 
way to make himself seem trustworthy to his hearers. When 
asked by someone if it was allowable for him to marry the 
sister of his dead wife, he did not shudder in horror at the 
question, but even listened calmly, and very nobly and glori- 
ously supported the wanton desire. Now, if I had the letter at 
hand I would have sent it, and you would have been able to 
defend both yourself and the truth. But, he who showed the 

7 Prov. 9.9. 

1 For Diodorus, cf. Letter 135 n. 1. This letter was written in 373 or 


letter took it away again, and carried it around like some 
trophy against us, since we had forbidden the act from the be- 
ginning; moreover, he declared that he had the permission in 
writing. Therefore, I have now written to you so that we may 
attack with twofold force that spurious document and leave 
it no power to harm easily those who read it. 

First of all, then a point which is of the utmost importance 
in such matters there is the custom among us which we can 
bring forward and which has the force of law because of the 
fact that the regulations were handed down to us by holy 
men. This custom is as follows: If anyone being overcome 
at any time by the vice of impurity falls into an unlawful 
union with two sisters, this is neither considered marriage, 
nor, in short, are they admitted to the membership of the 
Church before they have separated from each other. Conse- 
quently, even if it were possible to say nothing else, the custom 
would suffice to safeguard what is right. But, since he who 
wrote the letter has attempted by misleading argumentation 
to bring such an evil into men's lives, we must not forego the 
assistance of reasoning, although in matters which are per- 
fectly obvious the instinctive convinction of each is mightier 
than the argument. 

It has been written in Leviticus, 2 he says: 'Thou shalt not 
take thy wife's sister for a harlot, to rival her, neither shalt 
thou discover her nakedness, while she is yet living.' He says 
that it is evident, therefore, from these words that it is per- 
mitted to take her when his wife is dead. Now, in answer to 
this I shall say, first of all, that whatever the law says, it says 
to those who are within the law; otherwise, we shall be sub- 
ject to circumcision, to the observance of the sabbath, and to 
abstinence from meats. For, if we find something that agrees 
with our pleasure, we certainly shall not place ourselves under 
the yoke of servitude to the law, but, if some custom seems dif- 

2 Lev. 18.18. 


ficult, then have recourse to the freedom in Christ. We have 
been asked if it is written that he may take a woman as wife 
after her sister. We said what is in our opinion sound and true, 
that it is not written. But, to deduce by the application of 
inference a point which was passed over in silence is the right 
of him who frames the laws, not his who recites the laws, 
since in the latter case anyone who wishes can dare to take 
the sister even while his wife is still living. Now, this same 
sophism he also adapts to the following. For it is written, he 
says: Thou shalt not take they wife's sister for a harlot, to 
rival her,' so that the law did not forbid to take her except 
as a matter of rivalry. Of course, he who is advocate for the 
vice will declare that the distinctive trait of sisters is freedom 
from envy. Therefore, since the cause is removed for which the 
law forbade the cohabitation with both, what will prevent 
him from taking the sisters? But, this is not written, we shall 
say. Yet, neither was the former point defined. The sense of 
the deduction, however, gives permission for taking both sis- 
ters. Now, we must free ourselves from the difficulty by turn- 
ing back a little to matters preceding the legislation. 

The legislator, in fact, does not seem to embrace every 
type of sin, but to be forbidding particularly those of the 
Egyptians, from whom Israel had departed, and those of the 
Chanaanites, to whom Israel was migrating. The words are 
as follows: 'You shall not do according to the custom of the 
land of Egypt, in which you dwelt; neither shall you act ac- 
cording to the manner of the country of Chanaan, into which 
I will bring you, nor shall you walk in their ordinances.' 3 
Consequently, it is very probable that this form of sin had 
not at that time been introduced among the Gentiles, and on 
this account the legislator did not need to guard against it, 
but was satisfied with the accepted custom for withstanding 

Ct Lev. 18.3. 


the pollution. How, then, was it that, when he had forbidden 
the greater, he passed over the lesser sin in silence? It was 
because it seemed that the example of the Patriarch 4 was 
harmful to many carnal men, so that they cohabited with 
sisters still living. 

But, what must we do? Say what is written, or work out 
for ourselves what has been passed over in silence? For ex- 
ample, it is not written in these laws that a father and son 
should not have one concubine, but it was thought to be de- 
serving of a most serious charge by the Prophet. 5 'For/ he 
says, 'the son and the father have gone to the same young 
woman.' How many other forms of the unclean vices has 
the school of the demons discovered, yet Holy Scripture has 
passed them over in silence, not wishing to defile its holiness 
with the names of these disgraceful acts, but has condemned 
impurities in general terms! Thus, the Apostle Paul says: 
'But immorality and every uncleanness ... let it not even be 
named among you, as becomes saints,' 6 embracing in the 
name of 'uncleanness' the unmentionable practices of both 
men and women. Therefore, silence assuredly does not bring 
permission to the lovers of pleasure. 

But, I do not say that this class of sin was passed over in 
silence; rather, the legislator forbade it very emphatically. 
For the command, 'Thou shalt not approach to her that is 
near of kin to uncover her nakedness/ 7 embraces also this 
form of relationship. For, what could be more closely related 
to a man than his wife, rather than his own flesh? For 'they 
are no longer two, but one flesh.' 8 Therefore, through the wife 
the sister enters into relationship with the husband. In fact, 

4 Probably Jacob; cf. Gen. 29ff. 

5 Amos 2.7. 

6 Eph. 5.3. 

7 Cf. Lev. 18.6. 

8 Matt. 19.6. 


as he will not take the mother of his wife, nor the daughter 
of his wife, because he will not take his own mother nor his 
own daughter, so neither will he take his wife's sister, be- 
cause he will not take his own sister. And, contrariwise, it 
will not be possible for the wife to cohabit with relatives of 
the husband, for the lawful claims of relationship are com- 
mon to both. And I solemnly affirm to everyone who is 
deliberating about marriage that 'this world as we see it is 
passing away,* 9 and 'the time is short, . . . that those who have 
wives be as if they had none/ 10 And, if he reads for me in a 
wrong sense the words, 'Increase and multiply, 311 I laugh at 
him for not discerning the times of the legislation. A second 
marriage is a remedy against fornication, not a means for 
licentiousness. 'If they do not have self-control, let them 
many,' 12 it is said; but, even if they marry, let them not trans- 
gress the law. 

But, those who are blinded in soul by the disgraceful passion 
do not even regard nature, which long ago distinguished the 
titles of kinship. Now, of what kinship will such call their 
children? Will they call them brothers of each other or cous- 
ins? For, both names will fit them as a result of the con- 
fusion. Do not, O Sir, make the aunt the stepmother of your 
little ones, and do not arm with cruel jealousy her who ought 
to cherish them in the place of a mother. For, it is only the 
race of stepmothers that carries its hatred even after death. 
Rather, others who were hostile to the dead become recon- 
ciled, but stepmothers begin their hatred after death. 13 

9 i Cor. 7.3L 

10 Cf. 1 Cor. 7.29. 

11 Gen. 12$. 

12 1 Cor. 7.9. 

B Cf. Herodotus 4.154 and Euripides, Alcestis 309. In antiquity, the un- 
kmdness of stepmothers was proverbial. 


Now, to summarize these words: If a man is eager for mar- 
riage according to the law, all the world lies open, but, if his 
desire is under the influence of passion, on that account let 
him be restricted the more, that he may learn 'how to possess 
his vessel in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust.' 14 
Although I had desired to say more, the length of my letter 
prevents me. I pray that either our advice may prove stronger 
than the passion, or that this pollution may not come to re- 
side in our country, but may remain in those regions in which 
it has been attempted. 

161, To Amphilochius, on His Consecration as Bishop 1 

Blessed be God, who chooses in each generation those pleas- 
ing to Him, making known His chosen vessels 2 and using them 
for the ministry of the saints. He even now has ensnared 
you with the inescapable nets of His grace, when you were 
fleeing, as you say, not us, but the summons expected through 
us; and He has led you into the midst of Pisidia, so that you 
may take men captive to the Lord and may, according to His 
will, draw out from the depths into light those who have been 
made captive by the Devil. Therefore, say also yourself the 
words uttered by the blessed David: ^Whither shall I go from 
thy spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy face?' 3 For such 
wonders does our loving Lord work! * Asses are lost' 4 in order 
that a king may be found for Israel. But, that man, who was 

14 1 Thess 4.4-5. 

I For Amphilochius, cf. Letter 150 n. 1. This letter was written in 374. 

Cf. Loofs, op. ciL 46 n. 5. 

2 Cf. Acts 9.15. 

3 Ps. 138.7. 

4 Cf. 1 Kings 9.3. 


an Israelite, was given to Israel; yet, the country which nur- 
tured you and brought you to such a height of virtue does not 
have you ; on the contrary, she sees her neighbor embellished 
with her own ornament. Since, however, all those who have 
hoped in Christ are one people and those who are Christ's 
are now one Church, even though He is called upon from 
different regions, the country both rejoices and is gladdened 
by the dispensations of the Lord and does not think that one 
man has been lost but that through one man whole churches 
have been acquired. Only, may the Lord grant that we, when 
we are present, may see, and, when absent, may hear of your 
progress in the Gospel and of the good order of your churches. 

Be a man, therefore, and be strong and go before the people 
whom the Most High has entrusted to your right hand. And, 
as a skillful pilot, become mightier in resolve than every tem- 
pest stirred up by the heretical blasts, keep your ship unsub- 
merged by the briny and bitter waves of false doctrine, await- 
ing the calm which the Lord will make when a voice has been 
found worthy of rousing Him to rebuke the winds and the 
sea. But, if you wish to visit us now hastening to the inevitable 
end under our long-continued illness, do not await a favor- 
able time nor a sign from us, knowing that to our paternal 
love every time is an opportune one to embrace a beloved 
child, and that the affection of the soul is a more excellent 
summons than all speech. 

But, do not lament a burden which surpasses your strength. 
For, if you were the one destined to bear this responsibility 
alone, it would not be merely heavy but utterly unendur- 
able. But, if the Lord is the One who helps you bear it, 'Cast 
thy care upon the Lord,' 5 and He Himself will bear it. Only, 
let me urge you in all things to guard against this that you 
be not borne along with others by wicked customs, but that 

5 Cf. Ps. 55.23; also, 1 Peter 5.7. 


through the wisdom given to you by God you change the 
formerly adopted evil practices into something good. For, 
Christ has sent you, not to follow others, but that you yourself 
may guide those who are being saved* And we beg you to pray 
for us, in order that, if we are still in this life, we may be con- 
sidered worthy to see you with your church, but, if we are 
ordered to depart soon, that we may see all of you there with 
the Lord, your church flourishing like a good vine in good 
deeds, and you, as a wise husbandman and a good servant, 
giving in due season the measure of grain to your fellow serv- 
ants, storing up for yourself the reward of a faithful and pru- 
dent steward. 

All with us greet your Reverence. May you be well and 
cheerful in the Lord; may you be preserved in high esteem for 
the gifts of the Spirit and of wisdom. 

762. To Eusebius, Bishop of Samowta 1 

The following reflection seems to me both to cause hesita- 
tion in writing and to indicate its very necessity. For, when I 
contemplate my obligation of remaining at home and at the 
same time take into account the benefit of a meeting, I am in- 
clined to despise letters exceedingly, since they are not able 
to accomplish a shadow's worth in comparison with the real 
visit. Again, when I consider that my only consolation, de- 
prived as I am of what is greatest and most important, is to 
address such a great man and, as is our custom, to supplicate 
him not to forget us in his prayers, I am inclined to decide 
that letters are not a trifling matter. I myself do not wish to 
banish from my mind the hope of a visit, nor to give up the 

1 Another letter to Eusebius, written after Easter of the year 374; cf. 
Loofs, op. dt. 46 n. . 


idea of seeing your Reverence. For, I am ashamed that I 
should not seem to have so much confidence in your prayers 
as to expect to become a young man in place of an old one, 
if there should be need of that, and not merely to become a 
little stronger instead of remaining weak and wholly power- 
less, as I now am. 

It is not easy to put into words my reasons for not being 
with you already, not only because I am hindered by my pres- 
ent illness, but also because I have never had such power of 
speech as to be able to describe clearly my manifold and 
varied diseases. But, I can say that from Easter day until now 
fevers and diarrhea and disturbances of my bowels, over- 
whelming me like waves, did not permit me to emerge. Now, 
the kind and the character of these present attacks our brother 
Barachus can tell, even if not in a manner in keeping with 
the truth, at least sufficiently to testify to the cause of my 
postponement. I am entirely convinced that, if you would 
truly pray with us, we should easily be freed from all these 

163. To Count Jovinus 1 

I saw your soul in your letter. For, truly, no painter can 
so accurately portray the lineaments of a body as speech can 
image the secrets of the soul. In fact, the words of your letter 
aptly represented to us the stability of your character, the 
genuineness of your worth, and the purity of your mind in 
all respects; for this reason it also afforded us great consola- 
tion for your absence. Therefore, do not fail to use every pre- 

1 Gaunt Jovinus seems from this letter to have been on intimate terms 
with St. Basil; nothing more is known of him. This letter was written 
after Easter of 374. Cf. Loofs, op. tit. 46 n. 5. 



text which falls in your way to write and to grant us the favor 
of conversing with you from a distance, since the weakness 
of our body now causes us to despair of a personal meeting. 
How great that weakness is Bishop Amphilochius, 2 dearly 
beloved of God, will tell you, for he knows it through being 
with us much and is able to describe what he has beheld. 
Now, I wish my difficulties to be known for no other reason 
than to obtain pardon for the future, so that we may not 
suffer the condemnation of laziness if we should fail to pay 
you a visit. Yet, for this loss we need not so much a defense 
as consolation. For, if it were possible for us to be with your 
Dignity, I would consider this opportunity much more pre- 
cious to me than those things for which others eagerly strive. 

164. To Ascholius, Bishop of Thessdonica 1 

The greatness of the joy with which the letter of your Holi- 
ness filled us we cannot easily describe, for speech is but a 
weak tool for vivid portrayal, but you yourself ought to infer 
it, basing your judgment on the beauty of what you have 
written. For, what did your letter not contain? Did it not 
contain love for the Lord? Admiration for the martyrs, de- 
scribing so clearly the manner of the combat that it brings 
their deeds before our very eyes? Honor and affection toward 
us? Did it not have whatever qualities one might mention as 

2 The visit of Amphilochius in 374 was probably the first of a series of 
frequent visits. St. Basil was his spiritual father. Amphilochius preferred 
to make his visits to St. Basil in the autumn, because the anniver- 
sary of St. Basil's hospital was celebrated at that time. This hospital 
had a special interest for him, because it was here that he and Hera- 
cleidas had passed a solemn crisis in their lives. Cf. Letter 150. 

1 For this Ascholius, cf. Letter 154. The following letter is also addressed 
to him. This letter was written in 374. 


most noble? Consequently, when we took your letter into our 
hands and read it over and over and perceived the grace of 
the Spirit abounding in it, we thought that we were living 
in the olden times when the churches of God flourished, rooted 
in the faith, made one in love, since there existed a union of 
various members as in one body; when the persecutors were 
apparent and also those persecuted; when the people, though 
warred upon, became more numerous, and the blood of mar- 
tyrs watering the churches raised up many more champions 
of religion, those coming after stripping themselves for the 
combat in emulation of the former. At that time, we Chris- 
tians had peace with one another, that peace which the Lord 
left us, of which now there is no longer a trace remaining, so 
cruelly have we driven it from one another. But, our souls 
have returned to that pristine happiness since your letter came 
from afar blossoming with the beauty of love. Furthermore, 
a martyr has come to us from the barbarians beyond the 
Ister. 2 proclaiming through himself the exactness of the 
faith practiced there. Who could describe the joy of our souls 
at this? What power of speech could be devised capable of 
clearly expressing the feelings in the innermost depths of our 
heart? Truly, when we saw the athlete we congratulated his 
trainer, 3 who will also receive for himself the crown of justice 
at the hand of the most just Judge, because he has strength- 
ened many for the contest in defense of religion. 

Since you have brought to us the remembrance of the 
blessed man Eutyches, 4 and have exalted our fatherland as 
one which has supplied the seeds of piety, you have gladdened 

2 St. Basil regularly calls the Danube by the name of Ister> cf . Letter 40. 

3 St. Basal calls Ascholius the trainer of the martyr Sabas; cf. the title 
of Letter 155. 

4 A Christian of Cappadocia who was taken prisoner by the Goths in 260, 
and who later with some of his fellow captives became a martyr, but 
only after he had sowed the seeds of the faith in the land of his cap- 
tivity. Cf. Philost., H.E. 2.5. 


us by the recollection of former times, but you have saddened 
us by the account of what is now seen. For, no one of us 
resembles Eutyches in virtue, we who are so far from taming 
the barbarians by the power of the Spirit and by the action 
of His graces, that we have even, by the greatness of our sins, 
made savage those who were gentle. In fact, we ascribe to 
ourselves and our sins the blame for such extensive spreading 
of the power of the heretics. For, almost no part of the world 
has escaped the conflagration of heresy. Now, this is your 
report contests of the athletes, 5 bodies torn in shreds in de- 
fense of religion, the wrath of the barbarian despised by 
those undaunted in heart, the various tortures of the perse- 
cutors, the constancy of the wrestlers through it all, the beam, 
the water, 6 the instruments that completed the martyrdom. 
But, what are our conditions? Charity has grown cold. The 
doctrine of the Fathers is being destroyed; shipwreck in the 
faith is frequent; the mouths of the pious are silent; people, 
driven from the houses of prayer, out in the open fields lift 
up their hands to the Lord in heaven. Truly, the afflictions 
are heavy, but nowhere is there martyrdom, because those 
who inflict the evils upon us have the same name as we do. 
For these reasons do you yourself beseech the Lord and join 
with you in prayer in behalf of the churches all the noble 
athletes of Christ, in order that, if some time still remains for 
the existence of the world, and all things are not being driven 

5 I.e., the gladiatorial contests in which the Christians were made to fight. 

6 The following words from the Benedictine note illustrating this mode 
of martyrdom are from a letter of the Gothic Church, which was sup- 
posed to have been sent to the Church of Caesarea along with the hody 
of the martyr Sabas: 'Then they bring him down to the water as he 
gives thanks and glorifies God, . . . and having thrown him down and 
placed a beam of wood upon his neck, they cast him into the deep. 
And, so, having met his end by beam and water, he kept the symbol of 
salvation undefined at the age of thirty -eight years.' St. Sabas suffered 
martyrdom under Athanaricus, King of the Goths, toward the end of 
the fourth century. 


together in the opposite direction, 7 God, being reconciled to 
His churches, may lead them back again to the ancient peace. 

165. To Ascholius, Bishop of Thessalonica 1 

The holy God has fulfilled our long-enduring prayer, having 
deemed us worthy to receive a letter from your true Reverence. 
Now, the greatest privilege and one deserving of the highest 
esteem is to see you personally and to be seen by you, and in 
ourselves to enjoy the graces of the Spirit in you. But, since 
both the distance of your country and also the circumstances 
detaining each of us respectively prevent this, it is worthy of 
a second prayer that our soul be nourished by frequent letters 
from your Charity in Christ. And this, as a matter of fact, 
happened to us when we took into our hands your Intelli- 
gence's letter. For, we have been more than doubly delighted 
with what was written, since it was really possible to behold 
even your very soul, as it were, shining through a sort of 
mirror of words. Our pleasure was made manifold not only 
by the fact that you are such a man as the testimony of all 
shows, but also because your virtues are the source of pride 
to our fatherland. For, like a thriving branch sprung from a 
noble root, you have filled the country beyond our frontier 
with spiritual fruits. Therefore, our fatherland rightly glories 
in its own offspring, and, when you struggled through the con- 
tests for the sake of the faith, it extolled God, hearing that 

7 I.e., to destruction. 

1 Cf. Letters 154 and 155, with notes. According to the Benedictine editors, 
this letter is undoubtedly addressed to Soranus, Duke of Scythia, and 
not to Ascholius. In Letter 155, St. Basil asks his relative, Julius Soran- 
us, to send him the relics of the Gothic martyrs. The present letter is 
an answer to Soranus for promptly complying with his request and 
sending the relics of St. Sabas. The letter was written in 374. 


in you the goodly inheritance of the Fathers was carefully 

But, further, what are your present deeds? With the body of 
a martyr who lately finished his struggle in the barbarous 
neighboring land, you have honored the country which bore 
you, like a grateful farmer sending back the first fruits to 
those who supplied the seeds. The gifts are truly becoming to 
an athlete of Christ a martyr of the truth, recently crowned 
with the crown of righteousness and we not only received 
it rejoicing, but also glorified God who has already caused 
the Gospel of His Christ to be observed among all the nations. 
Let us urge you to remember in your prayers us who love 
you, and to pray earnestly to the Lord for our souls in order 
that we, also, at some time may be considered worthy to 
begin to serve God according to the way of His commands 
which He has given to us for our salvation. 

166. To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 1 

Although our most revered brother, Eupraxius, 2 is in every 
way dear to us and is among the truest of our friends, he has 
seemed dearer and truer because of his affection for you. 
Even now he has hastened to your Reverence like a hart 
(to use the words of David 3 ) which quenches its great and 

1 The present letter seems correctly to be attributed to St. Gregory of 
Nazianzus by the Benedictine editors. The style is rather St. Gregory's 
than St. Basil's epistolary style. Moreover, Eusebius had written to St. 
Gregory at about this time, and, as Eupraxius was passing through Cap- 
padocia on his way to Eusebius, it gave St. Gregory an opportunity to 
send an answer. Moreover, the letter is found in only four of the later 
group of MSS. of St. Basil's Letters and this is a very small number of 
the extant MSS. It was written in the late summer of 374. Cf. Loofs, 
op. cit. 46 n. 5. 

2 A disciple and intimate friend of Eusebius of Samosata. 

3 Cf. Ps. 41.2. 


intolerable thirst at a clear fresh spring. Happy is he who 
has been considered worthy to be associated with you, but 
more happy is he who has so crowned his sufferings for the 
sake of Christ and his toils for the sake of truth as few of 
those who fear God have done. For, you did not exhibit a 
virtue untried, nor in the time of fair weather only did you 
sail in a straight course and guide the souls of others, but you 
displayed a light amid the difficulties of trials, and you be- 
came mightier than the persecutors by nobly departing from 
the land which bore you. 

Others still possess their paternal land; but we, the city 
above. Others, perhaps, possess our throne ; we possess Christ. 
Wonderful transaction! Despising what manner of things, 
what things we have acquired ! We have passed through fire 
and water, but I trust that we shall also be led out to a place 
of rest. For, God will not abandon us in the end, nor will He 
suffer the persecution of sound doctrine, but, according to 
the number of our distresses will His consolation gladden us. 
For this, then, we trust and pray. But you, I beseech, pray for 
our Lowliness and, as often as an opportunity arises, do not 
hesitate to bless us through your letters and make us more 
cheerful by informing us of your own state of affairs, as 
you have now deigned to do. 


167. To Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata 1 

You gladden us by writing as well as by being mindful of 
us, and, even more than this, by blessing us in your letters. 
But, if we had been deserving of your sufferings and of your 
combat for Christ, we would also have been considered worthy 
to visit you, to embrace your Reverence, and to take the ex- 
ample of your patient endurance in sufferings. Now, since 
we happen to be unworthy of this, being entangled in many 
afflictions and cares, we do what is second best we salute 
your Perfection and we ask you not to grow weary of re- 
membering us. For, to be esteemed worthy of your letters is 
not only an advantage to us, but it is likewise a boast and 
a source of pride among the many that some notice is taken 
of us by a man so great in virtue and enjoying such intimacy 
with God that he is able to make others, also, His friends 
both by word and by example. 

768. To Antiochus the Presbyter, a Nephew of Eusebius, 
Who Was Living with His Uncle in Exile 1 

As much as I grieve that the Church has been deprived 
of so great a shepherd, 2 to that extent do I deem you happy 

1 This letter, like the preceding one, seems to be correctly attributed to 
St. Gregory of Nazianzus in the Benedictine edition Tillemont's objec- 
tion that 'afflictions and cares' fits St. Basil rather than St. Gregory does 
not have much weight. St. Gregory also had much to occupy him at 
this time. Moreover, the fact that the letter isi found among the MSS. 
of St. Gregory and is found in only four of the MSS. of St. Basil's letters 
would seem sufficient reason for assigning it to St. Gregory. It was 
Written in the late summer of 374. Cf. Loofs, op. cit. 46 n. 5. 

1 Theodoret (Eccl. Hist 4.12-13) describes the scene of Eusebius* forced 
departure into exile at the command of Valens. This letter was written 
in the late summer of 374. Cf. Loofs, op. cit. 46 n. 5. 

2 I.e., Eusebius. 


who at such a time have been thought worthy of being with 
a man struggling desperately in the strenuous defense of re- 
ligion. I am convinced that the Lord will consider you, who 
are nobly stimulating and supporting his zeal, also deserving 
of the same lot. And how great a gain it is to enjoy in pro- 
found tranquillity a man who has acquired so much from his 
education and from his experience in life! Therefore, I am 
persuaded that you now know the man, how great his in- 
telligence is, because in the past not only did he have his mind 
spread over many subjects, but also you yourself did not en- 
joy leisure from the affairs of life so as to be wholly devoted 
to the spiritual stream pouring forth from the pure heart of 
the man. But, may the Lord grant not only that you be a 
comfort to him but also that you yourself may not need con- 
solation from others. Of this, then, I am convinced as far as 
concerns your hearts, judging both from my own experience 
made when with you for a short while, and from the exalted 
doctrine of the good Teacher, whose companionship for .one 
day is sufficient provision for the journey toward salvation. 

169. Basil to Gregory 1 

You have undertaken a fitting, kindly, and humane act in 
bringing together the captive troop of the disdainful Glycer- 
ius (for, thus we must write for the present), and in having 
covered over our common disgrace as far as was possible. 

1 Letters 169, 170, and 171 treat of the strange actions of the deacon Gly- 
cerius. W. M. Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire before A.D. 
170 (2nd ed., London, 1893) 443-464, discusses this incident. His ex- 
planation is 'that Basil is giving us a picture, colored to his view, of 
a naive and quaint ceremony of early Cappadocian Christianity, which 
he regarded with horror and was resolved to stamp out.' This letter 
was written to Gregory (manuscript evidence favors Gregory of Naz- 
ianzus) in 374, 


Nevertheless, there is need for your Reverence to learn the 
charges against him, and so to wipe out the dishonor. 

For, this Glycerins, at present swaggering and proud in your 
opinion, was by us ordained deacon of the church at Venesa, 2 
both to serve the presbyter and to care for the work of the 
church. The man is, even if intractable in other respects, 
at least not without natural talent in manual labor. But, since 
his appointment, he has neglected his work as if it had not 
existed at all. Yet, after having gathered together some 
wretched virgins by his own personal power and authority, 
some having joined him willingly (now, you know the readi- 
ness of the young for such things) and others unwillingly, he 
attempted to be leader of the company. Assuming for himself 
the name and dress of patriarch, he on a sudden began to give 
himself airs, not following this course through any idea of 
conformity or piety, but preferring this opportunity of liveli- 
hood as another would some other occupation. And he has 
almost caused the upset of the whole church, defying his 
presbyter, a man venerated for his manner of life and his 
age, showing disdain for his suffragan bishop and for us as 
if we were deserving of no attention, and Ming the city and 
the whole clergy with uproars and disorders. 

Finally, lest he be mildly rebuked by us and also by the 
suffragan bishop so that he would not continue his con- 
temptuous conduct toward him (for he was also training the 
young people with him to the same spirit of rebellion), he 
is planning an affair exceedingly daring and flagrant. After 
having carried off from us as many of the virgins as he could, 
and having watched for a night, he departed in flight. These 
acts will appear exceedingly direful to you. Also, consider 
the time. The local festival was being held and an immense 
crowd was streaming in from all sides, as was natural. And 

2 Other spellings are Veesa, Venata, Synnasa. 


he, in turn, led out his chorus, following young men and 
dancing around them, and stirring up much sadness among 
the pious, and much laughter among the intemperate and 
more flippant. Even this is not enough, although it is of 
such enormity; but also, when the parents of the virgins, as 
I hear, not being able to endure the loss of their children, and 
desiring to lead back again the scattered group, embraced with 
tears their daughters, as is natural, this admirable young man 
with his piratical band wantonly insulted and dishonored 

Let not these things appear tolerable to your Reverence, 
for the derision touches all of us in common, but, above all, 
order him to return with the virgins. In fact, he would meet 
with some kindness if he would come back with a letter from 
you, but, if he will not, at least send the virgins back to their 
mother, the Church. If you cannot do this, at all events do 
not permit those who wish to return to remain under his sway, 
but command that they return to us. Otherwise, we protest 
to you, and also to God and to man, that this is not rightly 
done nor is it according to the laws of the Church. Now, if 
Glycerius would return with understanding and with proper 
stability, that is best; if not, let him be deprived of his ministry. 

170. To Glycerius 1 

To what extent do you abandon your common sense, and, 
while planning unwisely concerning your own actions, both 
disturb us and shame the whole order of monks? Return, then, 
trusting in God and in us who imitate His loving kindness. 
For, even though we have rebuked you like a father, we shall 

1 On the same subject and of the same date as the preceding letter. 


also pardon you like a father. This is our attitude toward you, 
since many others are pleading for you, and above all, your 
presbyter, whose venerable hair and kindly heart we revere. 
But, if you prolong your separation from us, you have fallen 
altogether from your rank. Moreover, you will also separate 
yourself from God with your songs and your robes, by which 
you are leading young maidens, not to God, but to the pit. 

17 7. To Gregory 1 

^ I wrote to you just lately concerning Glycerius and the 
virgins. They have not yet returned even to this day, but they 
are still delaying; for what reason and how they are doing 
so, I do not know. Now, I would not bring this as a charge 
against you, that you are doing this to discredit us either be- 
cause you are somewhat ill-disposed toward us or wish to show 
favor to others. Therefore, let them come without fear; and 
you become surety for this. For, we suffer when our members 
are cut off, even if they have been rightly cut off. But, if they 
should resist, the burden falls upon others and we are ac- 

172. To Bishop Sophrordus 1 

How much joy your letter gave us, we need not write. For, 
1 For explanation of content and for date, cf. Letter 169. 

1 This Sophronius, otherwise unknown, is distinguished by the Benedic. 
tine editors from Sophronius, nutgister officiorum, to whom Letters 
32, 76, 96, and others are addressed. This letter was written in 374. 


you can assuredly surmise it from the nature of the news which 
you sent. In fact, in your letter you showed us the first fruit 
of the Spirit, which is charity. Now, what could be more pre- 
cious to us than this in the present state of affairs, when 'be- 
cause iniquity has abounded the charity of the many has 
grown cold'? 2 For, nothing is so rare now as a meeting with 
a spiritual brother, and peaceful conversation, and spiritual 
fellowship; since we have found this fellowship in your Per- 
fection, we have given sincere thanks to the Lord, asking 
that we also may share the perfect happiness that is in you. 
For, if your letters are such, what will a meeting be? And, 
if you thus win me from afar, how estimable will you prove 
to be when you are near at hand? But, be well assured that, 
if a throng of innumerable cares as also the present inexorable 
necessities by which we are bound were not holding me fast, 
I myself would have hastened to your Perfection. Although 
the same old weakness of my body greatly hinders me in mov- 
ing about, nevertheless, because of the profit which I expect, 
I would not have taken this obstacle into account. For, to have 
been considered worthy to be near a man who holds the same 
sentiments and maintains the faith of the Fathers, as is re- 
ported of you by our honored brothers and fellow presbyters, 
is truly to return to the pristine happiness of the churches, 
when sufferers from unsound argumentation were few and all 
were in tranquillity, fulfilling the commandments as workers 
that have no cause for shame, 3 serving the Lord through 
frank and simple confession and preserving inviolate and 
simple the faith in the Father and Son and Holy Spirit. 

2 Cf. Matt. 24.12. 

3 Cf. 2 Tim. 2.15. 


17-3. To the Canoness Theodora 1 

The fact that we are not sure of our letters being placed 
in the hands of your Charity, but through the wickedness of 
those serving as carriers they may be read first by countless 
others, makes us hesitant about writing, especially now, when 
affairs everywhere are in such confusion. Therefore, I am 
waiting to be in some manner censured and to have the 
letters forcefully demanded, to be assured by this very fact of 
their delivery. At all events, whether we write or keep silence, 
we hold in our hearts one duty to guard the memory of your 
Modesty and to pray the Lord to grant that you may complete 
the course of the good life you have chosen. Truly, there is 
no small struggle for him who makes profession to fulfill his 
promise. In fact, choosing the manner of life according to the 
Gospel is the privilege of everyone, but carrying the observ- 
ance even to the smallest point and neglecting none of its 
written rules this is successfully accomplished by very few 
of those who have come within our knowledge. It is to have 
the tongue guarded and an eye disciplined according to the 
intention of the Gospel, to work with our hands with the in- 
tention of pleasing God, to move our feet and to employ each 
of our members in the manner in which our Creator directed 
from the beginning. It is to observe modesty in dress, cau- 
tion in our conversations with men, moderation in food, and 
frugality in the acquisition of the necessaries. All these things 
are small when thus simply mentioned, but they require a 

1 Canonesses were women who devoted themselves to education, district 
visiting, funerals, and various charitable .works, and who lived in com- 
munity apart from men. Cf. Socrates 1.17; Sozomen 8.23. Rules were 
laid down for their guidance, as St. Basil here sets forth, but St. Augus- 
tine in 423 drew up the first general rules for such communities of 
women. They are distinguished from nuns in not being bound by vows, 
and from deaconesses as not so distinctly discharging ministerial duties. 
This letter was written about the year 374. 


great struggle for their successful accomplishment, as we 
have very truly found out. Furthermore, the perfection of 
humility, so as neither to be mindful of renowned ancestors, 
nor to exalt ourselves because of any natural excellence either 
of body or soul that really may exist in us, nor to make the 
opinion of others about us an occasion of elation and pride 
these things belong to the evangelical life. So do strength 
in self-control, assiduity in prayer, sympathy in brotherly love, 
generosity toward those in need, subjection of pride, contrition 
of heart, soundness of faith, moderation in depression, an at- 
titude of mind which never foregoes the memory of the fear- 
ful and inexorable judgment to which we are all hastening, 
although very few remember it and are solicitous about the 

174. To a Widow 1 

Although I desired very much to write regularly to your 
Nobility, I always restrained myself. I feared lest, perchance, 
I should seem to provoke trials for you because of those who 
are ill-disposed toward us, and, as I hear, are pushing their 
hatred to such a measure that they inquire impertinently if 
anyone by chance even receives a letter from us. But, since 
you yourself have happily begun the correspondence and have 
written, communicating with us, as was necessary, concerning 
the affairs of your soul, I am impelled to answer, thus cor- 
recting what I omitted in the past and at the same time reply- 
ing to the message sent by your Nobility. 

For, blessed is the soul which night and day reflects upon 
no other care than how, on the great day on which all crea- 
tures will stand around the Judge giving account of their 

1 Her identity is unknown. This letter was written about the year 374. 


deeds, it also may be able to set forth with light heart the rec- 
ord of its actions during life. In fact, if anyone keeps that 
day and hour before his eyes and always meditates upon his 
defense before the tribunal which cannot be deceived, such 
a one will sin either not at all or very seldom, because sin 
is committed by us through absence of the fear of God. And, 
to such as have present to their minds a vivid expectation of 
what is impending, the fear associated with it will give no op- 
portunity of falling into ill-advised acts or thoughts. 

Accordingly, be mindful of God and have the fear of Him 
in your heart, and invite all to a union with you in your pray- 
ers. For, great is the assistance of those who are able to move 
God. And do not leave off doing these things. Indeed, while 
we are living in this flesh, prayer will be a goodly help for 
us, and, when we are departing hence, it will be sufficient 
provision for the future life. Moreover, just as solicitude is 
something good, so again despondency, despair, and loss of 
the hope of salvation are among the things which are injuri- 
ous to the soul. Hope, then, in the goodness of God and await 
His support, knowing that, if we turn to Him rightly and 
sincerely, not only will He not cast us aside forever, but, while 
we are still uttering the words of our prayer, He will say: 
'Behold, I am here. 1 

775. To Count Magnenianus 1 

Recently, your Dignity sent me a letter about certain other 
matters, and also expressly enjoined that we should write con- 
cerning the faith. I do admire your zeal in this affair and I 
pray to God that you may adhere unyieldingly to your choice 

1 This Magnenianus may be the one mentioned in Letter 325, but he is 
otherwise unknown. This letter was written about the year 374. 


of the good, and that, always advancing in knowledge and 
good works, you may attain perfection. But, because I do not 
wish to leave behind me a treatise on the faith nor to com- 
pose different creeds, I have refused to write what you re- 
quested. 2 

Only, you seem to me to be surrounded by the din of men 
there 3 engaged in no labor, who speak slanderously against us, 
as if by this means to brace their own position, telling most 
shameful lies against us. For, the past reveals them and the 
future will make them more obvious. Moreover, we urges those 
who have hoped in Christ to busy themselves about nothing 
except the faith of old; but, as we believe, so to be baptized; 
and as we are baptized, so to give glory. 4 And, as for names, 
it is enough for us to admit those which we have received from 
the Holy Scripture and to avoid innovations in these matters. 
For, not in the invention of names is our salvation, but in the 
sound confession of the Divinity in which we believe. 

176, To Amphilochius^ Bishop of Iconium 1 

May the holy God grant that this letter of ours come into 
your hands when you are in good health of body, free of all 
business, and faring in all things according to your will, in 
order that our invitation may not be unavailing. For, we are 
inviting you now to visit our city in order that the festival, 

2 A short time later, St. Basil did this very thing for Amphilochius of 

Iconium, and wrote the treatise De Spiritu Sancto. 
$ The Benedictine edition (Vita Basilii xxx) thinks the allusion is to 

Atarbius of Neo-Caesarea and some of his presbyters. 
4 Cf. St. Basil, De Spiritu Sancto 26. 

1 St. Basil invites Amphilochius to a festival in honor of St. Eupsychius. 
This letter was written in 374. 


which it is a custom for our church to celebrate yearly in 
honor of the martyrs, 2 may be made more impressive. In 
fact, be convinced, my most honored and truly beloved friend, 
that, although our people have had experience of many, they 
care for no visit so much as for your presence, so keen a shaft 
of love you released at that short meeting. In order, therefore, 
that God may be glorified, the people delighted, the martyrs 
honored, and we old men may meet with the attention owed 
to us by a true son, deign unhesitatingly to come over to us 
and to anticipate the days of the synod. Thus we may con- 
verse with each other at our leisure and together console one 
another by the sharing of spiritual gifts. The fifth 8 of Septem- 
ber is the day. Therefore, we urge you to be on hand three 
days in advance in order that you may also make the memo- 
rial chapel 4 of the almshouse great by your presence. By the 
grace of the Lord, may you be preserved for me and for the 
Church of God healthy and happy in the Lord and praying 
earnestly for me. 

177. To the Master Sophronius 1 
To enumerate all those who have received benefits from 

2 I.e., Damas and Eupsychius. For Eupsychius, cf. Letters 100, 152, and 

3 This date seems to be a mistake for the seventh, the feast day of St. Eup- 
sychius in the Greek calendar. 

4 By mrieme the Benedictine editors understand the memorial church 
erected by St. Basil in his, hospital at Caesarea, i. e., the church in the 
sense of a memorial. Cf. Letter 94. For the use of mneme in this sense, 
Du Cange cites Act. Cone. Chalced. 1.144. 

1 Sophronius was a fellow student of St. Basil at Athens, and also a friend 
of St. Gregory of Nazianzus. Other letters addressed to this Sophronius 
are Letters 76, 96, 177, 180 f 192, and 272. This letter was written in the 
year S74. 


your Lordship through our mediation is not easy. We are in- 
deed conscious of having aided many through your mighty 
hand, which the Lord has bestowed on us as an ally in the 
most critical times. However, most deserving of all, perchance, 
is the one who is now being introduced through our letter, 
our most revered brother, Eusebius, 2 who has fallen a prey 
to absurd calumny, which it is in the power of your Rectitude 
alone to dispel Therefore, we urge that, complying with 
justice and taking thought of the lot of man and also be- 
stowing on us the accustomed favors, you become all things 
to the man, defending him and the truth. For, he has no weak 
ally righteousness and, if the present critical moment should 
not damage this alliance, it will be very easy to give clear 
and incontrovertible proof. 

178. To Aburgius 1 

I am aware that I have frequently recommended many per- 
sons to your Honor and have been quite serviceable at most 
critical times to those in affliction. Yet, I know that I have 
sent to your Modesty no one who is more honored in my sight 
or who is striving for anything of greater importance than 
our most beloved son, Eusebius, who is now placing in your 
hands this letter from us. And, should he meet with an op- 
portunity, he will explain in detail to your Dignity in what 
sort of trouble he is involved. But, what we can fittingly say 
is this: the man must not be swept aside, nor, because there 
are many around who have been caught in most atrocious 

2 Eusebius of Samosata. 

1 Previous letters addressed to Aburgius are Letters 33, 75, and 147. The 
date of this letter is the same as that of the preceding. 


acts, must he share at all in the suspicion against the many. 
On the contrary, he should obtain a trial, and his life should 
be submitted to an examination. In this way, both the 
calumny will very easily become evident, and the man, having 
met with most just protection, will be a perpetual herald of the 
benefits bestowed on him by your Clemency. 2 

179. To Arinthaeus 1 

Both the generosity of your nature and your affability to- 
ward all make sufficiently plain to us that you are a lover not 
only of freedom but also of man. We, therefore, serve con- 
fidently as an ambassador for a man illustrious through a 
long line of ancestors, but deserving of himself more honor 
and respect because of the gentleness of character inherent 
in him. As a consequence, we urge you to defend him in his 
struggle against a charge which is deserving of contempt, 
as far as regards the truth, but is especially difficult to meet 
on account of the severity of the calumny. In fact, it would 
be for him a decisive influence toward safety if you would 
condescend to speak a kindly word for him, complying in the 
first place with justice, and in the next bestowing on us, your 
chosen friends, in this instance, also, the customary honor and 

2 According to the Benedictine editors, St. Basil is referring to the terrible 
cruelties inflicted by Valens on those who were accused of inquiring by 
divination as to who were to succeed him on the throne. Cf. Amm. 
MarcelL 29J.2. 

I Arinthaeus was an able general under Valens. He was a friend of St. 
Basil and a staunch defender of the Church, although, according to 
the custom of the times, he was not baptized until on h^s deathbed. Cf. 
Letter 269. He was consul in 372 and must have died before St. Basil 
(379). According to Theodoret (Eccl. Hist. 4.30), he seconded the 
general Trajan's rebuke of Valens in 378, so he must have died only a 
few months before St. Basil, Cf. Tillemont, Empereurs 5.100. 


ISO. To the Master Sophronius, in Behalf of Eumathius 1 

I have suffered much in spirit on meeting with a worthy 
man who had been subjected to an unendurable situation. 
For, since I am a man, why should I not share the suffering 
of a free man who is involved in troubles beyond his desert? 
After deliberating how I might become useful to him, I 
found one solution for the difficulty which beset him if 
I might make him known to your Modesty. The rest, then, 
is your duty to exhibit for him the zeal which you have 
shown for many, as we have witnessed. 

The petition presented by him to the emperors will make 
known the facts; let me urge you to take it into your hands 
and to co-operate with the man as far as possible, for you are 
showing a kindness to a Christian who is both a noble person 
and one who invites respect for his great learning. But, if we 
add that we also receive a great favor through your bene- 
ficence to him, certainly, although our affairs are otherwise 
insignificant, yet, since your Dignity is always willing to con- 
sider our interests of some account, the favor granted to us 
will not seem trifling. 

To Otreius of Meletine 1 

I realize that the separation from Bishop Eusebius, dearly 
beloved of God, affects your Reverence as much even as our- 
selves. Since, then, we both need comfort, let us become a 

1 Nothing i? known about this Eumathius except for this present letter 
written in 374. 

1 Otreius, one of the leading orthodox prelates of the fourth century, was 
at Tyana in 367, and at Constantinople in 381. Meletine, now Malatia, 
is in Armenia Minor. This letter was written in 374. 


consolation to each other. You write to us the news from 
Samosata, and we shall report whatever we can learn from 
Thrace. For, to me it brings no little alleviation of the present 
distresses to know the constancy of the people, and to your 
Excellency to learn in what condition our common father is. 
Of course, at the present time we cannot explain by letter, but 
we have commended to you a man who knows exactly, and 
who will report in what a state he left him and how he was 
bearing his troubles. Pray, therefore, both for him and for 
us, in order that the Lord may bring a speedy release from 
these sufferings. 

182. To the Presbyters of Sapiosata 1 

As much as we are grieved when we consider the desolation 2 
of your church, to that extent do we congratulate you, who 
have already reached this point of the struggle, May the Lord 
grant that you pass through this with patient endurance, in 
order that you may receive the great reward for the faithful 
stewardship and the noble constancy which you have shown 
for the name of Christ. 

183. To the Senate of Samosata 1 

Whenever I consider that our trial has already spread 
through the whole world, and that the greatest of the cities 
in Syria have experienced misfortunes equal to your own, and 

1 This letter was written in 374, 

2 The reference is chiefly to the exile of Eusebius, 

1 This letter was written on the occasion of Eusebius,' exile in 374. 


that nowhere is there a Senate so esteemed and distinguished 
for good works as yours at present proclaimed for its zeal in 
good works, I almost feel grateful for what has been ordained. 
For, if this affliction had not occurred, your excellence would 
not have shone through. Therefore, it seems that, what the 
furnace is for gold, 2 this the affliction endured for our hope 
in God is for those who seek after some virtue. Come, then, 
admirable men, see that you bring forth subsequent labors 
worthy of those already accomplished, and that you show 
you are placing on a mighty foundation a more illustrious 
finishing touch. When the Lord grants that he appear on 
his own throne, stand about the shepherd of the Church, 
narrating the various achievements each of you has ac- 
complished for the Church of God in proportion to your 
labors. But, by being mindful of us and writing as often as 
may be possible, you will not only act rightly in answering us, 
but at the same time you will give us not a little pleasure by 
sending us through your letters visible symbols of a voice 
most sweet to us. 

184. To Eustathius, Bishop of Himmeria 1 

I know that orphanhood is a condition of sadness and much 
work because it entails the loss of those set over us. Therefore, 

1 infer that your Reverence, too, being saddened by what has 
happened, does not write to us and is at the same time even 
more engaged now in visiting the flocks of Christ because the 
enemies are rising up from every side. But, since conversa- 

2 Cf. Prov. 17.3 and 27.21. 

I Himmeria was in Osrhoene. This Eustathius is otherwise unknown. 
This letter was written in 374. 


tion with those of like spirit is an assuagement of every sorrow, 
deign as often as may be possible for you, to write to us and 
not only to rest yourself by addressing us but also to console us 
by sharing your words with us. And this we likewise shall 
be eager to do as often as our occupations may permit us. But, 
do you yourself pray and urge all the brethren earnestly to 
beseech the Lord, in order that He may some day offer us 
release from the gloom which is enveloping us. 

185. To Theodotus, Bishop of Berrhoea 1 

I know that, even if you do not write to us, the memory of 
us is nevertheless present in your heart. And I take as an indi- 
cation of this, not the fact that I myself am worthy of any kind- 
ly remembrance, but that your soul is rich in its superabun- 
dance of charity. However, as far as is possible for you, make 
use of the opportunities which occur to write to us in order 
that we may be of better courage on learning of your affairs 
and may ourselves seize the occasion to inform you of ours. 
For, this is the method of communication for those who are 
so far separated in body, namely, through letters; and let us 
not deprive each other of it in so far as circumstances may 
permit. May the Lord grant us a personal meeting in order 
that we may increase our love, and may abound in our grati- 
tude to the Master because of the greater gifts received from 

1 Thcodotus was the orthodox Bishop of Berrhoea in Syria under Valens* 
nothing more is known about him. This letter was written in 374. 

(A series of approximately 100 volumes when completed) 


THIANS (trans, by Glimrn) 




(trans, by Glimm) 

MARTYRDOM OF ST. POLYCARP (trans, by Glimm) 
DIDACHE (trans, by Glimm) 
LETTER OF BARNABAS (trans, by Glimm) 
SHEPHERD OF HERMAS (1st printing only; trans, by 


LETTER TO DiOGNETus (trans, by Walsh) 
FRAGMENTS OF PAPIAS (1st printing only; trans. 

by Marique) 

VOL. 2: ST. AUGUSTINE (1947) 

CHRISTIAN INSTRUCTION (trans, by Gavigan) 
ADMONITION AND GRACE (trans, by Murray) 
THE CHRISTIAN COMBAT (trans, by Russell) 
FAITH, HOPE, AND CHARITY (trans, by Peebles) 


GOVERNANCE OF GOD (trans, by O'Sullivan) 
LETTERS (trans, by O'Sullivan) 


by O' Sullivan) 

VOL. 4: ST. AUGUSTINE (1947) 

IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL (trans, by Schopp) 
MAGNITUDE OF THE SOUL (trans, by McMahon) 
ON MUSIC (trans, by Taliaferro) 

ADVANTAGE OF BELIEVING (trans, by Sr. Luanne 

ON FAITH IN THINGS UNSEEN (trans, by Defeirari 

and Sr. Mary Francis McDonald) 

VOL. 5: ST. AUGUSTINE (1948) 

THE HAPPY LIFE (trans, by Schopp) 
ANSWER TO SKEPTICS (trans, by Kavanagh) 


(trans by Russell) 
SOLILOQUES (trans, by Gilligan) 


DIALOGUE WITH TRYPHO (trans, by Falls) 


(trans, by Falls) 
THE MONARCHY (trans, by Falls) 


WRITINGS (trans, by Walsh and Monohan) 

WRITINGS (trans, by Peebles) 

COMMONITORIES (trans, by Morris) 

GRACE AND FREE WILL (trans, by O'Donnell) 

VOL. 8: ST. AUGUSTINE (1950) 

CITY OF GOD, Bks. I-VII (trans, by Walsh, Zema; 
introduction by Gilson) 

VOL. 9: ST. BASIL (1950) 

ASCETICAL WORKS (trans, by Sr. M. Monica 

VOL. 10: TERTULLIAN (1950) 

APOLOGETICAL WORKS (vol. I) , (trans, by Arbes- 

rnann, Sr. Emily Joseph Daly, Ouain) 
OCTAVIUS (trans, by Arbesmann) 

VOL. 11: ST. AUGUSTINE (1951) 


(trans, by Kavanagh) 

VOL. 12: ST. AUGUSTINE (1951) 

LETTERS 1-82 (vol. 1) , (trans, by Sr. Wilfrid Par- 
VOL. 13: ST. BASIL (1951) 

LETTERS 1-185 (vol. 1), (trans, by Deferrarl and 
Sr. Agnes Clare Way) 

VOL. 14: ST. AUGUSTINE (1952) 

CITY OF GOD, Bks. VIII-XVI (trans, by Walsh and 

Mtr. Grace Monahan) 

rari and Sr. Mary Magdeleine Mueller) 


INUS (trans, by Lacy) 

LIFE OF ST. AUGUSTINE BY possiDius (trans, by 
Deferrari and Sr. Mary Magdeleine Mueller) 


Sr. Mary Emily Keenan) 

(trans by Sr. Marie LIguori Ewald) 

Genevieve Marie Cook) 


HILARY (trans, by Deferrari) 

VOL. 16: ST. AUGUSTINE (1952) Treatises on Various 


Sarah Muldowney) 

AGAINST LYING (trans, by Jaffee) 

CONTINENCE (trans, by Sr. Mary Francis McDon- 

PATIENCE (trans, by Sr. Luanne Meagher) 

Clement Eagan) 


Mary DeFerrari) 


SELECTED SERMONS (trans, by Ganss) 
HOMILIES (trans, by Ganss) 

VOL. 18: ST. AUGUSTINE (1953) 

LETTERS 83-130 (vol. 2) , (trans, by Sr. Wilfrid 


ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY, Bks. 1-5 (trans, by 

VOL. 20; ST. AUGUSTINE (1953) 

LETTERS 131-164 (vol. 3), (trans, by Sr. Wilfrid 

VOL. 21: ST. AUGUSTINE (1953) 

CONFESSIONS (trans, by Bourke) 

ST. AMBROSE (1953) 

FUNERAL ORATIONS (trans, by McCauley, Sullivan, 
McGuire, Deferrari) 


CHRIST, THE EDUCATOR (trans, by Wood) 

VOL. 24: ST. AUGUSTINE (1954) 

CITY OF GOD, Bks. XVII-XXII (trans, by Walsh 
and Honan) 

THE TRINITY (trans, by McKenna) 

VOL. 26: ST. AMBROSE (1954) 

LETTER 1-91 (trans, by Sr. M. Melchior Beyenka) 

VOL. 27: ST. AUGUSTINE (1955) Treatises on Marriage 
and Other Subjects: 

THE GOOD OF MARRIAGE (trans, by Wilcox) 
ADULTEROUS MARRIAGES (trans, by Huegelmeyer) 
HOLY VIRGINITY (trans, by McQuade) 


JEWS (trans, by Sr. Marie Liguori Ewald) 
FAITH AND THE CREED (trans, by Russell) 



VOL. 28: ST. BASIL (1955) 

LETTERS 186-368 (vol. 2), (trans, by Sr. Agnes 
Glare Way) 


ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY, Bks. 6-10 (trans, by 

VOL. 30: ST. AUGUSTINE (1955) 

LETTERS 165-203 (vol. 4), (trans, by Sr. Wilfrid 


SERMONS 1-80 (vol. 1), (trans, by Sr. Mary Magde- 
leine Mueller) 

VOL. 32: ST. AUGUSTINE (1956) 

LETTERS 204-270 (vol. 5), (trans by Sr. Wilfrid 


HOMILIES 1-47 (vol. 1), (trans, by Sr. Thomas 
Aquinas Goggin) 

VOL. 34: ST. LEO THE GREAT (1957) 
LETTERS (trans, by Hunt) 

VOL. 35: ST. AUGUSTINE (1957) 

AGAINST JULIAN (trans, by Schumacher) 

VOL. 36: ST. CYPRIAN (1958) 

TREATISES (trans, by Deferrari, Sr. Angela Eliza- 
beth Keenan, Mahoney, Sr. George Edward 


DOX FAITH (trans, by Chase) 

VOL. 38: ST. AUGUSTINE (1959) 


Mary Muldowney) 

DIALOGUES (trans, by Zimmerman) 

VOL. 40: TERTULLIAN (1959) 


by Arbesmann, Qualn, Sr. Emily Joseph. Daly) 


HOMILIES 48-88 (vol. 2), (trans, by Sr. Thomas 
Aquinas Goggin) 

VOL. 42: ST. AMBROSE (1961) 


by Savage) 

VOL. 43: FRUDENTIUS (1962) 

POEMS (vol. 1) , (trans, by Sr. M. Clement Eagan) 

VOL. 44: ST. AMBROSE (1963) 



VOL. 45: ST. AUGUSTINE (1963) 

THE TRINITY (trans, by McKenna) 

VOL. 46: ST. BASIL (1963) 

EXEGETIC HOMILIES (trans, by Sr. Agnes Clare 



SERMONS 81-186 (vol. 2), (trans by Sr. Mary 
Magdeleine Mueller) 

VOL. 48: ST. JEROME (1964) 

HOMILIES 1-59 (vol. 1) , (trans, by Sr. Marie 
Liguori Ewald) 

VOL. 49: LACTANTIUS (1964) 

Mary Francis McDonald) 

VOL. 50: OROSIUS (1964) 



VOL. 51: ST. CYPRIAN (1965) 

LETTERS (trans, by Sr. Rose Bernard Donna) 

-. -mil mimni (ff |